As more companies adopt cloud-based enterprise systems, and more business processes are housed by those systems, the need for highly skilled administrators has grown considerably. In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of these systems, administrators now own key parts of big-picture goals like compliance and change management.
An admin’s job can include anything from configuring custom reports for SOX compliance to defining the buyer journey across a business’ sales cycle. In a recent post, Salesforce Ben talks about the changing nature of the role in Salesforce, arguing that, as the platform evolves, the admin’s job may end up being closer to a sales operations manager than someone solely responsible for the technical management of the system.
This isn’t limited to Salesforce, either. In this clip, our own Amy Carlson, Strongpoint’s Director of Customer Success, speaks to the importance of having a “rockstar” system administrator running NetSuite at public companies:
Your System Admin: What and Why
According to Indeed, a system administrator is responsible “for the configuration, upkeep and reliable operation of a company's network and computer systems.” But this is kind of like saying a company’s CFO or head of finance is responsible for ‘keeping the books balanced’ — technically true, but a gross oversimplification of what that responsibility actually entails, and how it’s connected to larger business goals.
The reality is that every business is different and a system admin’s day-to-day duties can vary depending on the scope of their role, the size of the organization and the systems the company is running (and the nature of the business processes that they house). But virtually any organization can benefit from a rockstar admin. In honor of this Friday's System Administrator Appreciation Day, here are three ways a great admin can go above and beyond and deliver value for their organization.
Bringing Business Units into Alignment
One of a system administrator’s most important roles is to ensure that employees and other users know how to productively use the technology of your business. Not only that, but system administrators often find innovative ways to manage and evolve processes — and connect different departments with multi-level workflows and approvals.
Ultimately, by designing systems that are easy-to-use, and that give users the information they need without a lot of hassle, a great admin can help shape the culture of the company — determining, in many ways, how people collaborate and communicate with each other.
Keeping Technical Debt to a Minimum
When ERP and CRM systems like Salesforce and NetSuite advertise their ‘low code’ customizability, admins working in these platforms often become system architects, too — especially as a business’ needs evolve and additional customization is required. However, if they're not properly managed, necessary customizations can lead to unnecessary complexity, which makes the system harder to navigate going forward.
This is called technical debt, and it’s a persistent problem in mature CRMs and ERPs. A great admin will be actively involved in keeping bloat to a minimum, either by maintaining comprehensive documentation or running regular cleanup projects. With a clean, streamlined system, a business' continued evolution can be managed without the knock-on effects of technical debt.
Making Sure Data is Secure
Because of the role they play in maintaining things like access controls and password policies, system admins are often the first point of protection against user-centric security risks. A great admin will work closely with your compliance and security teams to ensure that best practices are built directly into the operation of the system. However, security shouldn't slow down a user's ability to work efficiently — one way an admin can help is by implanting compensating controls around things like segregation of duties and financial transactions.
One irony that speaks to the power of the admin — is that ‘Admin’-level access in systems like Salesforce and NetSuite is itself a security risk if it is given out indiscriminately. If too many people have broad permissions to create, edit or delete records, that’s a significant problem. For this reason, we strongly recommend that ‘Admin’ access be reserved to the people who actually run the system — namely, your NetSuite and Salesforce admins.
A Free Gift For Admins!
With all of this said, it’s clear that system administrators are responsible for one of the most tricky parts of your business — they ensure that the technology your employees use is working efficiently, is secure, and is evolving to support your business operations. For this reason alone, they deserve our applause, and not just on System Administration Appreciation Day! Make sure to take some time to appreciate and acknowledge the hard work your system administrator does on a regular basis.
To show our appreciation for all the work our admins do, we’re giving away copies of Flashlight, our NetSuite and Salesforce documentation tool. This easy-to-use, native app helps admins — and developers, and BAs, and more — take on many of the goals we mentioned above. Visit our Flashlight page for your free license: