Trailhead: The Salesforce CPD Scheme

Many of the industries my company works with have mandatory CPD schemes for their qualified practitioners. In order to retain their status as a licensed Accountant or Solicitor individuals must show that they are continuously developing their professional skills.

One reason for this is to prevent said professionals from getting rusty, to keep that grey matter active, but another is to encourage members to stay abreast of new developments in their field.

Those of us who are certified Salesforce professionals have similar obligations. Three times a year we need to pass the maintenance exams of each track in which we are certified in order to retain our certification.

But as Salesforce has never been the kind of company to leave its community to fend for themselves, Trailhead was created to aid and encourage our continuous development.

Trailhead isn't just there to help us pass our exams though, far from it, Trailhead is for the whole ecosystem. Trailhead is used by employees, certified and un-certified professionals, MVPs, CTAs, end users, HR professionals. If you've heard of Salesforce then there's a trail for you.

I have never worked on or with a system which moves as rapidly as Salesforce. For the many of us who like to be kept on our toes then this platform does that in spades. Want a challenge? Then the three releases per annum and new clouds and technologies being announced with such regularity will certainly do that. All of this has made Trailhead quickly indispensable.

So how is Salesforce different? In other occupations maintaining professional credentials can be costly, with whole commercial industries existing to train and help experts maintain their status. Though both Salesforce University itself and other commercial operations exist, the Trailhead team have decided to gift us this tool. The fact that the Twitter account of SalesforceU has merged into Trailhead has made it clear that the way we learn is changing.

What's in it for Salesforce? Some may now be questioning the commercials behind this decision to offer so much for free and wonder why Salesforce, a business after all, is risking losing the earnings from classroom training. To my mind the company has decided that a dearth in talent will have a greater impact to their bottom line than a possible loss of training revenue.
Trailhead is essential in building and sustaining an ecosystem that needs ever more professionals who can support and develop this constantly evolving platform.

So why must we take advantage of this application and not just treat it as a game.

Since Salesforce has been so generous and spent such an incredible amount of time and money on developing and growing this tool for us to use, we owe it to ourselves to make full use of it.

Competitions - It may be because learning is more important to me that being on the top of a leaderboard but I don't have much of a competitive streak. Don't get wrong, I love the incentives the team have deployed. I say that as someone who is now the proud owner of a Einstein Analytics Hoodie after earning the Einstein Discovery Basics Badge during the #CitizenDataScientist sweepstake.
However, I am disappointed when I see community members focus on the eligibility small print of these competitions and miss the point that completing the trail is how we really win. The size of today's community means that the odds of most of us securing a prize are high but we can all learn about the new features by completing the curated Trailmix.

So if it isn't just a race to complete as many badges, or win as many prizes, as possible, then what is our approach? With 115 trails and more than 400 active modules, where does one start?

Personally I group the modules in the followings ways:
  • Modules in clouds or levels which I have already 'mastered'
    I complete these to pick up any tips, or be reminded about areas I may have forgotten.
  • Informative modules without hands on challenges
    I save these for my commute, waiting rooms, or when I only have my phone with me.
  • Modules covering new topics, or areas in which I do not feel confident
    I make sure I consume these modules properly, giving myself the time to ensure the learning has sunk in and I can practice in my Trailhead Playground.
  • Superbadges
    As with Projects I save these until I am connected to two monitors and have the time and head-space to read the instructions carefully. A quiet weekend is normally required.
The #RoadToRanger is rewarding and will help you succeed at your job and develop your career, but if you turn it into a race then you will miss out on valuable learning opportunities. Take your time, digest, practice, and do justice to the resource the Trailhead team have provided.


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