Contracting as a Salesforce Business Analyst: Stephanie Belhomme

Today we meet Stephanie Belhomme, an ACBA and Salesforce Admin from New Jersey, who used The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program to solidify her business knowledge and maximize her opportunity with clients.

What we love about Stephanie’s story is how the program provided her with concrete, quantifiable skills to increase her value to her clients no matter what the project is.

In this interview, you’ll discover how:

  • The program provided Stephanie with the proper training so she could stop adhocking her business skills together through online searches.
  • Stephanie adapted to complete the program despite various life circumstances coming up.
  • Stephanie uses the skills she learned in the program to better serve her contract clients.


Michael: Hi everybody. This is Michael with Bridging the Gap, one of the instructors here. Today I am here with Stephanie Belhomme. She is one of our previous participants. She is currently a Salesforce business analyst and is joining us from New Jersey. We’re going to get a little bit into her journey with the program. But first of all we want to thank Stephanie for joining us and give her a chance to say hello.

Stephanie: Hi, everyone. Pleasure to be here. And thank you, Michael and team at Bridging the Gap for the invitation. One side bit, I am both a business analyst and a Salesforce admin. So I can’t drop my admin cred.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. That had a big part of your project as well. We definitely need to include that for sure. Awesome. I am pretty excited to learn a little bit more about your journey, even though I know quite a bit because I was your instructor, but I also want to hear a little bit more about your story along that journey from your perspective as well.

My first question for you today is to take us back to last year and tell us about before you joined The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program where were you at in your career and what were you looking to achieve by joining this program?

Stephanie: Sure. I would have to go back a little bit further than that to when Laura Brandenburg and Bridging the Gap sort of hit my radar.

It had to be during my most major contract within a corporate environment. And it was somewhere between 2019 when I started and then late 2020 when I ended. Definitely in the midst of that or a little bit before that Laura hit my radar. I ended up watching a couple of her YouTube videos and she just stuck. I just kept following her content. I think I signed up and would get interesting little tips and blurbs in my email box. Some I would read. But over time, the first resonance just grew more and more, the more I got to hear from her. The thing that hit me with Laura is that she came up with a really succinct, direct way to explain that business analysis is a thing.

Michael: Yes.

Stephanie: It’s a process. You basically brought sanity to a process, because I think I also discovered during our cohort that I wasn’t the only one that was sort of ad hocking and learning these skills in job, in process, or in project. And when you do that and you do that over years, yes, you develop strengths and weaknesses in the overall tools and structure. We’ll talk about this later, but without the cohesive sort of 360 degree view of all of the components, how they work together, how it fits together, you don’t know what you don’t know. Her conversations stuck because it was like, oh wait, I can bring a bit more sanity to the thing that I’m doing. When you’re doing it, you’re sort of neck deep or eyeball deep into a running project and it’s hard.

Michael: Yeah. And when you’re kind of coming into the world of business analysis, a lot of people still don’t understand it. A lot of practitioners are looking for an actual framework. They’re like, I need a BA framework. With Laura being able to outline that eight step business analyst process that you’re referring to, it really adds a lot of clarity. There will be some things that might shift around a little bit, but it really gives a core type of framework for people or a guide for people to kind of go through the process and feel like they kind of have some way to navigate through this whole thing.

Stephanie: Right, exactly. And to touch on that just a little bit. I ended up going full all in into the Salesforce ecosystem because of the first company that I was working at, a nonprofit that had Salesforce. And I ended up doing all of the business analysis work along with a bunch of other factors and a bunch of IT things going on at once that I helped sort of get a handle on. But I didn’t realize that I was doing business analysis work until much later in my Salesforce journey to get more experience. And then when I hit Laura’s class, it was like, “Oh, my God. I’ve been doing this for a long time and didn’t know.”

Michael: That’s what that’s called.

Stephanie: Right. Before the people I worked with didn’t have names for all this stuff, but yeah.

Michael: And, and you know what? That’s so common. I think that’s one of the most. The, one of the funnest part about being in this line of work is I love when people get that aha moment and are like, “Oh, that’s what it’s called? I’ve been doing that.” Or, “Oh, I can start doing this, then make this and get this result.” I think that’s very common and we always love to hear that part.

Stephanie: And it’s funny. The last thing I’ll say about it is that Laura would mention this in her videos, but there was something that was more impactful being in the cohort and in the class that you really got that this is a multi-disciplinary, multi-sector, multi-industry skill. She would point out too, this is a high value skill. But I knew it from my Salesforce work, but then again, being in our cohort and seeing the diversity of people and practitioners from all kinds of industries, like, oh yeah. Six figures, high value, business bottom line return on investment, costs and savings culture. All of it.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And we’re thankful for that. That’s what we’re here for is to allow people to recognize that they are valuable and they can, hopefully the business analyst certification program is going to allow you to command more. Like, yeah, this is what I’m able to do. How can you help me? So great. That’s awesome.

All right. So let’s talk a little bit about the program. You now have your ACBA. In regard to your success with that, what are some of your key or main takeaways from the program?

Stephanie: Sure. I think the first and biggest one was commitment. That was crucial and huge. As you know, throughout this project, I stumbled upon some significant points of grief and loss. I mean, I think they won. If we put this in the context of the timeline, we did the summer session which started around July and ended in December. I’m, first-generation. Both of my parents are Haitian. In July in the summer, we had the assassination of the president. And I still had family that’s back at home. We have family all over the world, but the family that’s at home, we’re still connected to. So that happened.

And then there were the floods and the earthquakes.

Michael: I remember that. Yeah.

Stephanie: And we’re still going through COVID deaths and things like that as well. Throughout that six-month period, there were these hiccups of I remember that first weekend and I think I typed you an email. I submitted my first module. It was, I want to say shameful, but in context, pathetic. But in context, the best that I could do. And I thought, God, I want to quit before I had even started. How is this going to work.

Michael: But you definitely pushed through. I was so proud of you for persevering and pushing past that. I was like, I don’t know if she’s going to make it, but you did. And I thought that was absolutely awesome because to be going through a program at this level and to be going through the things that you were going through with your family and other loved ones, I think that’s definitely worth noting because that, that was a big, big hiccup and a lot of other people probably could’ve just been like, look, I just can’t do this program right now, but you definitely kept pushing forward. So I’m definitely proud of you for that.

Stephanie: Thank you. And I have to say to your credit and the credit of the team as well, you guys did an excellent job of holding space for me and giving me that gentle push. Not too hard, not too little. Like whatever decision you need to make, we’re here. But it was really very special and very supportive because I think any other group would have been like, “Well, thank you for your money. Peace out. Be well.” But you guys were not that. And I could kind of feel you were gunning for me in the background. You kept your poker face. I didn’t know until now, but it really made a difference. Just the sincerity of the emails. It’s not like anybody wrote me a long love letter, but it was just sort of, this is what we can do. We worked around some things and then it was like, okay, just show up, Stephanie, just show up. And that kind of got me through each piece.

I would say that the second thing that was sort of like neck and neck in terms of challenging was if I go into like the modules and the components of the content, the data dictionary was probably the most. That and the final module, which was the culmination of everything we had done.

And I say that because the final one where even though we had covered everything else prior, right and it was sort of the culmination and we passed with flying colors, so there’s a certain relief, it was really that test of being able to sort of back yourself out of a cul-de-sac of hyper analysis. As an analyst, we like to analyze things and you can overthink something and then make it more difficult than it needs to be. But then being able to be like, okay, let me reference the frame. Let me rethink this. Step back and go back and then look at it like, oh, okay, wait a minute. There’s a simpler way, more elegant way, a more logical way to do this. And then it was literally the test of can I integrate all of these pieces into this one framework?

Michael: Yeah. And I think your perspective is actually pretty common that a lot of people do struggle with the data modeling module the most, because that’s what most business analysts are least familiar with. So yeah, definitely people struggle with that, but also, the final module. The other three modules are much more guided. It’s kind of like, this is right. This is how you do it. It’s a little more like either you do it or you don’t, or you do it correctly or incorrectly, and we give you feedback.

But with that final module, we have to bring everything together. It’s a lot more subjective. It’s more about telling what you did and giving your opinions and thoughts on it. It really requires you to think in a different way. Like, oh, now I have to now have to really put it out there.

Stephanie: And one thing that made it, I guess I won’t say easier because it was hard to do was that as I sort of, doing the summations of each step, it was really easy to see how I could be in a meeting and having to make the business case and defend this position for myself. Or if I had a team, or the other admins on the team would say, “Hey, if we do it this way, it’s going to cost us money. If we do it this way, It’s going to cost us time. If we do it this way and find the middle ground, we might be all much happier.” And it was really sort of, I could see those moments of those conversations, both past ones and future ones.

Michael: Yeah. Wow. Well, yeah, I’m glad. And that’s the thing. We want you to be able to apply the concepts. It’s not a theoretical course. It’s an application course and application and certification. So that’s definitely a relief to hear you say that.

Stephanie: I would say with the data dictionary, the thing that made that one hard that I had encountered that tool before. Doing implementations, you often have to do that kind of thing. But the level of detail and the degree to which we really dove into the nitty gritty and needing to reconcile discrepancies and the different types of forms of data, all of that work that happened in an Excel document before we even have a conversation with the business owners and stuff.

It made me feel a little ashamed for the past teams and projects I was on where we just sped through that as fast as possible because of project pressures. We’ve just got to get it done and move on to the next step. Knowing really the full breadth of that and all the places that you can actually have a better cultural impact or process impact, or again, bottom line impact, I will definitely be taking my time in the future just because it’s like, oh, this is what it could actually do.

Michael: Yeah. That’s the old saying that ignorance is bliss. Now that you know what’s involved, it’s like now I got to really apply these concepts.

Stephanie: Right.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. That’s cool. All right. So tell us a little bit about your career now. How have you progressed, kind of a good lead in. How have you progressed in your career now that you’ve gone through the program, now that you have your ACBA? Tell about how any changes that have occurred from that?

Stephanie: Sure. I will say that every opportunity I get to use one of these tools or introduce it, I do, and it’s fun to. The project, the Blackstone launchpad project at the community college where I teach that I’ve helped to launch, just this past month we got into the nitty gritty around the reporting stuff and what that’s going to look like and what the lift, the labor, both the emotional labor and typical labor will look like. And it was interesting because then I pulled out the glossary that I made.

Michael: Yeah. Because it was an actual project that you were on.

Stephanie: Yeah, exactly. I pull out the glossary. My academic champion, my co-director, and then the folks who are the lead point people on the software that we’re using for that project were there. I needed to make a point in terms of we’ve gotten super familiar with the software. We understand the back end and the front end and all these things. But once you pull a report, we need to know what these things mean on a screen and then these sub memories.

I only understood that because I had done the glossary for us in terms of what is it that we want to measure? What is it that we want to track? What is the value, both quantitative and qualitative? And I came up with this glossary for us in terms of all of the things in the outcomes we want for the students. But now when you now have to match that with what’s on the screen and what’s already in the software that they built, I was like, okay, how much of, what we want is in there already and how much is not and what can we configure? That document is screen-shared and every time I screenshare it they’re like, “Wow, Stephanie, this is so well organized. This is amazing. This is like,” I’m the guy. I’m like, “Thank you.”

Michael: Yeah. That’s pretty amazing. Wow. Awesome. And so what does that mean to you personally, being able to have that type of feedback that it’s like, not just, “Okay, great job,” it was kind of like they were actually impressed now.

Stephanie: One part is just pride because I know the effort that went into understanding the tools and doing all that work. But then the other part is just how much more should these conversations unfold around a project? We’re not getting caught up in either, let’s say, the ego level of, I want this and I want that and the different, you parties. We’re getting down to just very logical. What do we need? And does the tool match what we need? If it doesn’t, then we start to have conversations about those things. So we’re actually working towards solving the problems rather than getting caught up in all these other details. It just streamlines conversations so, so well.

Michael: That is awesome. I’m so happy to hear what you’re telling me right now, I just, I really am. Because like I said, we have a purpose with the program, but when we actually get to hear and see the results, we’re always super thrilled. There are always some good ones. It’s just something that never gets old. So, awesome.

Stephanie: Definitely. I would say that on a larger macro level with my career, I had continuously postponed getting my Salesforce admin cert simply because I’d be eyeballs deep in a project and then 40 plus hours a week later, that aspiration would just get pushed off, pushed off, pushed off, right to the next project, to the next project or in between projects and just never happen. And part of that was before I actually really wanted the cert, I wanted to have enough experience that getting the certification was then contextual and experiential. I was just studying and cramming for something and then it had no meaning to me. By the time I got busy enough where, okay, I’ve got a bunch of experience, but then I had no time to do it.

The business analysis piece then became the more dominant thing of, I want to do. ASAP, like I’ll do the Salesforce admin cert anytime, but I want to do this ASAP because it directly spoke to all of that pre prep work before you get into the admin stuff of configuring things and doing all the declarative coding and all of the work that you do with the developers who do hard coding.

All of that work in Salesforce, there’s the customer success aspect. And then there’s business analysis, which I think is becoming more formalized now, but so much of what I took away from our program with BTG is that the business analysis work encompasses both the customer success piece, as well as it happened to have the technical skills in terms of my case with the admin piece. It bridges both sides of that.

Michael: It bridges the gap.

Stephanie: Right, exactly. And it’s funny because for me, I really have found my groove in contracting. I really love it. And part of the reason I love it is because it gives me a certain amount of latitude that if I was an employee, I would be censored by either the blind spots that are entrenched or other things that are habitual, things that are entrenched in the culture where I don’t get to speak to things that come up or that I notice in a way that is fully let’s say transparent, open or multi-level right. In terms of the stakeholders.

As a contractor, it’s sort of like, I can bring my full professionalism and my full self with always great care and respect obviously, but there’s this sense that I’m not bridled in any way.

You’re paying me as a contractor to bring my fullest and my best. And the tools with BTG. Just let me do that, that much more. I want to be able to develop my LLC and grow my business so that I can deliberately pick the projects, the clients and the things that are most interesting to me to work on.

Michael: That’s pretty amazing. It’s actually a great lead in. Which is kind of like the opposite of this is that if you invested in the Blueprint or the ACBA program where do you think you’d be today?

Stephanie: The Salesforce cert would definitely be checked off the box. I’m working on that now. Finally, the breathing from study. And probably hopped into my next contract treading water. There’s the analogy of the duck on a placid lake or placid body of water and you just see them gracefully moving along the surface as if it’s nothing, but underneath they’re paddling like hell. Because of BTG, I’m saving a bunch of calories. The paddling is not so frantic.

Michael: Yeah. Wow.

Stephanie: So without it, I would still be paddling frantically and just the facade of that grace along the water. But underneath it all, like just wondering like, oh my gosh.

Michael: Chaos underneath, right?

Stephanie: Yes.

Michael: That’s awesome. Great, great, great. Well, I think that is nearing the conclusion of the questions I have to ask. Again, I want to thank you so much for your time.

Is there anything else that you want to share? Any words of encouragement for anyone or anything like that?

Stephanie: The first thing I would say is if you choose to do the program, do it eyes wide open. It’s not easy by any means, but it is so worth it. It’s so rewarding. And I would say that, thank God it’s not longer than it is.

Michael: Yeah, it’s pretty long.

Stephanie: But also thank God it’s not shorter than it is. I think you guys hit the right sort of sweet spot. If you go in, just go in with eyes wide open and it’s worth the effort. Don’t give up. It is so worth the effort.

I didn’t realize this, I think, maybe until talking to you, but the validation that comes with understanding, like, “Oh my goodness, I’ve been doing this all along,” or “I know this tool, I know that.” But then also the places where you had blind spots and you didn’t know this other way that you could use this tool or this whole other tool altogether that you were never introduced to but would complement and supplement this one over here.

All of this stuff that comes together, it’s both like there’s the validation part, but I think the confidence comes from that, that you leave with from deliberately engaging with what you know, and also improve and fill in the gaps of what you don’t know to then make your projects, your teams and the culture of that experience so much better.

Michael: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Absolutely. Wow. This has been a great interview I must admit.

Stephanie: Agree. Same here. Yeah.

Michael: So again, thank you so much for your time. It was such an honor to speak to you today. I know your story is going to help a ton of people out there who are interested in the, The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program and the ACBA program, but also people that are just interested in business analysis or maybe Salesforce.

Thanks again. We will catch you next time.

Stephanie: My pleasure. And thank you.

Michael: You’re very welcome.

>>How to Learn the Foundational Business Analyst Skills (And Build Your Body of Formal Work Samples)

When you join The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, you’ll gain real-world experience in the industry-standard techniques and business analysis processes. You’ll create work samples vetted by experienced instructors and have the opportunity to become a credentialed business analyst as a recipient of the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).

>> Click here for more information about The Business Analyst Blueprint® <<

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