Becoming a Certified Salesforce Business Analyst: What I learned from taking the new exam

Salesforce has a ton of great certification options, and they recently announced the new Business Analyst certification!

Here at Vicasso, we do business analysis every day for our clients, so you can only imagine our excitement and interest in this new offering. We were so excited that I decided to take the exam barely a day after it was launched.

At Vicasso we’re also passionate about knowledge-sharing, so I decided to share my experience to help guide others who are considering blazing the trail to get this brand new credential. I’ll review the structure of the exam, share my personal experience, give some example questions, and give you some study resources to help your own prep.

The Exam Structure

The certification is 60 multiple choice questions that you have 105 minutes to answer. Passing score is 72% or higher. It is also common for you to have 5 extra, randomly placed questions which are not scored, so if you get into the exam and see 65 questions, don’t panic!

The skills and knowledge tested range from business process understanding, user stories, requirements gathering, and managing stakeholders. The breakdown of the section is as follows:

Customer Discovery: 17%

  • Understand the discovery process
  • Translate business needs to potential Salesforce solutions

Collaboration with Stakeholders: 24%

  • Understand how to work with multiple stakeholders and communicate effectively
  • Tackle stakeholder scenarios, like conflicting priorities and achieving signoff

Business Process Mapping: 16%

  • Break down complex processes into steps
  • Analyze processes to visualize future state

Requirements: 17%

  • Document and prioritize requirements
  • Understand the differences between user stories and requirements

User Stories: 18%

  • Know the components/features of a good user story
  • Understand concepts like “acceptance criteria” and “definition of done”

User Acceptance: 8%

  • Prepare a user acceptance testing (UAT) plan
  • Manage the UAT process and determine go/no-go decision criteria

Our Experience

First off (and no surprise), the Exam Guide and Trailhead both covered the exam contents pretty accurately.

One of the most common themes in the exam was scenario-based questions. A common question format would be a specific scenario a business analyst may find themselves in, and your job is correctly identifying the best next step or best process to follow. These scenarios may cover how to approach a discovery for a new project, how to handle stakeholders, or how to identify and address project risks and issues.

Another major theme was knowing the differences between different types of process mappings and documentation options. Given a specific scenario, can you correctly identify the correct type of process mapping or documentation format to use? For example:

  • Universal Process Notation (UPN)
  • Capability Models
  • Value Streams
  • Journey Mapping. 

This Trailhead module does a great job of summarizing the important types.

Something else important to understand is how to write user stories, determine acceptance criteria, and define a “definition of done” in Agile methodology. If you’re given a requirement, can you successfully draft a user story? And given a user story, can you identify the who, what, and why of the story?

Lastly, make sure you’re comfortable with general terminology and concepts, like what a Kanban board is used for and what is covered during a scrum review vs. project retrospective. Terms may come from Agile or Waterfall project methodologies!

Some Example Questions

We know it’s nerve-wracking taking an exam without knowing what kinds of questions to expect, so we drafted a few examples inspired by our experience. Disclaimer - based on my personal experience, these are not exact questions from the certification exam.

1. During a project discovery, the business analyst (BA) uncovers a requirement for service managers to have visibility into their team’s queues to monitor open tickets their team is assigned. What is the best user story for this requirement?

     a) As a user, I need to see case queues to monitor my team’s work.

     b) As a service team member, I need my manager to access my queue to monitor my work.

     c) As a service manager, I need to see my team’s work queues so I can monitor their open tickets.

2. A business analyst (BA) is assigned a project to help revamp Acme’s sales process. The current process is not well documented. What is the first step a business analyst should take?

     a) Meet with stakeholders 1-on-1 and capture everyone’s individual requirements.

     b) Meet with stakeholders as a group to learn the current process and create a process mapping.

     c) Create an entity relationship diagram of the current state.

Prepare for the Exam

I strongly recommend you look over the content, even if you’re a seasoned business analyst, because many of the terms and process-steps outlined in the modules may be different from terms and processes you’re personally used to. As some questions on the exam even allude to, all organizations have their own lingo, and some of the terms you encounter may differ from the terms you’ve grown accustomed to. It can also be a great way to make sure you’re “in the know” about the terminology that is becoming the Salesforce-standard for business analysts.

Reviewing Salesforce’s official content will ensure you’re ready for the questions and answers on the exam, as many of the questions ask about specific concepts defined in these modules. In fact, the Salesforce Business Analyst Certification Prep module has a great series of practice questions that are very reflective of those you will see on the exam.

Also, before any certification exam, we recommend looking over the exam guide. It should also be no surprise that Salesforce has created a couple of Trailhead modules and trails specifically for business analysts. 

Module: Salesforce Business Analyst Certification Prep

Trail: Get Started as a Salesforce Business Analyst

Interested in growing your career in the Salesforce ecosystem? Join Vicasso.