November 6, 2017
Three years ago, the first Magento Certified Solution Specialist exam was released. After years of working with Magento, I was proud to become one the first to earn this certificate. This year, I was honored to be asked to join the Advisory Board that created the new Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist (M2CSS) exam. Now that the M2CSS exam has been released, I wanted to share a bit more about why a Solution Specialist is critical to every Magento project.
What is a Solution Specialist?
A Solution Specialist knows the features and architecture of the Magento platform thoroughly, as well as the general eCommerce landscape, and can effectively apply this knowledge. Solution Specialists could work directly for a merchant, through an agency such as Creatuity or as freelance consultants.
Solution Specialists represent a cross-functional group of professionals that often have learned through experience over a long period of time. So it’s no surprise that their exact job titles can vary quite a bit along with their exact roles and responsibilities. Job titles span Magento Architect, Solution Consultant, eCommerce Manager, Project Manager, Digital Marketing Director, and Business Analyst.
Many Solution Specialists work in the Admin Panel, managing day-to-day operations like merchandising and promotions. Some are involved in architecting the project initially before building the site, and some are also Certified Developers that help implement the requirements.
Additional responsibilities include: Gathering business requirements and making a project plan, designing the architecture for a new site, managing the project and the development team, assisting developers with tasks like migrating data, completing quality assurance and final testing, providing training on how to use the new system(s) effectively, managing deployment workflows to ensure a smooth final launch, optimizing the site and add new features, and managing website operations, such as advertising or customer experience.
Why are Solution Specialists So Important?
In my years of working with Magento, I have seen many real-world examples of mistakes and/or failures that could have been avoided by following the advice of a seasoned Solution Specialist. For example, last week a merchant called Creatuity panicking because their website was down. Our quick investigation showed that a non-certified marketing consultant had attempted to install an extension directly on the live site. An experienced Solution Specialist would always recommend installing an extension on a development site first, for this exact reason. Additionally, this extension happened to be a feature (Google Tag Manager) that is already included in the merchant’s Magento Commerce license, so it was completely unnecessary. This is a great example of why everyone that is accessing your Magento site should be Certified, or at the very least, they should consult with a Certified individual prior to making changes. This example was fairly quick to roll-back, but this mistake still cost the merchant significantly.
Solution Specialists are trained at gathering business needs thoroughly, to define precise, measurable software requirements. They can identify requirements that are covered in core functionality, to avoid unnecessary additional costs. Solution Specialists also know how to effectively manage software development processes to ensure the project is on-time and on-budget. There are numerous examples of ways that hiring a Solution Specialist can save you time, money, and frustration. It’s not uncommon to be charged higher rates for Solution Specialists than Developers because their unique skill set is incredibly valuable to the merchant.
Magento Solution Specialist Certification
Magento recognizes the importance of a Solution Specialist to your project and requires Solution Partners to employ Certified Solution Specialists, in addition to Certified Developers. Whether you are building a new Magento site, migrating to Magento 2, or improving your existing Magento site, a Solution Specialist has expertise that can help you achieve your goals—and we’ve organized a certification exam to verify their expertise.
The Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist exam covers a wide variety of skills that are important for the job, as well as applying that knowledge to real-world scenarios. For example, it’s not only important to know how to set up a Shopping Cart Price Rule, but also how it might be used for specific promotion requirements that merchants need. Topics covered range vastly, from PCI Compliance to the Software Development Life Cycle to Content Staging. Critical knowledge like security recommendations and Magento architecture ensure that the Certified person working on the project does not make costly mistakes.
I’ve been asked many times how to study for this exam, and I highly recommend the Magento U Managing Your Magento Store course. It covers many concepts that are valuable, not just for merchants, but for anyone working with Magento.
Personally, I’ve learned a lot through hands-on experience, engaging with the ecosystem, and staying current on Magento and eCommerce news. Over time, I’ve developed in-house training programs and materials for my team, attempting to condense all that I’ve learned for those that are new to the field. I’m excited to announce that I’ll soon be releasing those publicly. You can visit Creatuity.com/Magento-Solution-Specialist for details.
What’s Coming in the Future for Solution Specialists?
eCommerce constantly changes, and Magento continues to release even more innovative technology. From PWAs to the recently-released B2B Module, Solution Specialists must do more than just pass one exam. They must continually improve and constantly seek new, better solutions. One of the best ways that the Solution Specialist community can continue to learn and innovate is through sharing our knowledge. Please join a meetup, chat on the Magento Forums, or attend an event. You can also follow me on Twitter (@MagentoJenna) to share your experiences and learn together with this amazing community.
About Jenna and Creatuity
Jenna Warren is Executive Vice-President and a Magento Certified Solution Specialist at Creatuity. Jenna advises eCommerce merchants on long-term eCommerce strategy and sustainable competitive advantage in an ever-changing digital environment. Passionate about eCommerce, Jenna speaks and writes about Solution Specialist related topics, such as Conversion Rate Optimization and Omni-Channel Strategies. Creatuity is an award-winning Enterprise Solution Partner based in Dallas, Texas, specializing in Magento design, development, and optimization.