What is Flow, Really? A Feature?

I recently shared on LinkedIn that flows are getting a lot of attention. I wrote that we need a dedicated certification for flows and a flow champions program.

That post stirred up some debate. I wanted to share my thoughts about this in a long form. I will do this in a Q&A format and then drive a conclusion at the end. Here we go:

What is flow? A Salesforce feature?

One of the topics that came up was whether flow was a feature. It is not imperative to emphasize the categorization, but this topic demands clarification. For me, “account teams” is a feature, and “quotes” is a feature you can turn on on the platform. Flow is a low-code platform, or even if you refrain from this title, a group of products on the Salesforce platform that spans over clouds and products: You can use flow on Sales, Service, Community (Digital Experience) Clouds, and Field Service. Flow has several solutions available that have dedicated product teams in Salesforce. When you go to the release notes, Salesforce flow is one of the top-level pages you see. This was not the case a few releases back. But when addressing some of the topics I mentioned above, this categorization is less important than the definition of the target audience and skillset required to utilize this product to the full extent.

Can flow topics be rolled under administrator or developer headings?

Not really. Administrators do not have to use flows. In fact, there are Salesforce licenses that don’t offer flows or limit flow usage. Developers do not have to use flows, either. It would be great if they did, in any case.

What is the skillset required to use flows?

Flow skillset sits right between admin and developer. A talented admin may never make the transition to building advanced flows. However, they can still customize their Org to address the needs of the business. On the other hand, developers who work in big development teams in giant corporations do not have to master flow or admin skills to do their job. They can deliver specialized and well-documented solutions merged into bigger releases to address business needs. However, if they did master admin and flow skills, they would be super valuable.

What are the prerequisites to learning flow?

Power-user or basic admin skills are required. However, you can start learning flow without being an advanced admin. Some developers in the ecosystem argue that basic development and coding concepts should be studied before learning flows. While this study would help you with flows, this is not a prerequisite to learning flows.

What is the target audience for flows?

The target audience is admins and developers interested in using low code to customize the Salesforce platform through automation.

Flows have their own release readiness webinar separate from Admin and Developer. Jacinta Burke shared that this has been the case since 2019. She said, and I quote: “It was a no-brainer given our audience”.

Have you ever wondered why the Salesforce MVP David K. Liu named his website “SALESFORCE CODING LESSONS FOR THE 99%”? Unfortunately, code and low code are not for everybody. I taught thousands of people flow, and I will be the first to say that there will be people who will not or cannot do flow. They will be able to do simple things like email alerts, but they may not be comfortable tackling some more advanced ones.

Generally, the flow target audience is a subset of admins and developers. There could be exceptions.

Which certification should address the flow skills?

Currently, Platform App Builder is the one that includes flows. It is a mixed bag, though: What do Lightning Apps/Pages have to do with flows? Very little. On the flip side, I know many people with this certification who can only flow a little. I explained above that I do not think every admin should be required to flow. So we either need to revamp the PAB certification or give flow it’s own certification.

Can flows be part of Platform Developer 1 or 2 certifications? They can be, to some extent, if this is what you want to do, but there will be a big audience who flows who never want to do coding. Therefore I think flow needs to be addressed separately.

Whether Salesforce launches a Flow Champions program is totally up to them, but I know tons of people do this already without Salesforce’s funding and support.

This post was originally made to LinkedIn on January 22nd, 2023.

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