How I Studied for the Data Architecture and Management Designer Exam

On June 2, 2019, I took and passed the Data Architecture and Management Designer Exam!


The Data Architecture And Management Designer is one of four certifications that make up the Salesforce Certified Application Architect (CAA) credential of the Architect pyramid. The other certifications that make up a CAA are: Platform App Builder, Platform Developer I and Sharing and Visibility Designer Exam. Once an individual earns both the Certified Application Architect and Certified System Architect, s/he can go in front of the board for the Certified Technical Architect credential — the very top of the Architect pyramid!


Note: Ruth is Salesforce’s newest mascot for Salesforce architects. She was first introduced at TrailheaDX 2019.

From the exam guide…

“The Salesforce Certified Data Architecture and Management Designer credential is intended for the designer who assesses the architecture environment and requirements and designs sound, scalable, and performant solutions on the Lightning Platform. This credential will also assess the designer’s ability to meet the requirements of large-data-volume enterprises, as well as how they understand enterprise data management and stewardship concerns and considerations in relation to projects. The credential is relevant to designers who have experience communicating solutions and design trade-offs to business stakeholders.”

Important information about the exam:

  • This 105 minute exam consists of 60 multiple choice/multi-select questions.
  • Passing score is 67%, or about 40 correctly answered questions.

  • The registration fee is $400 with a retake fee of $200.

1. Review the Concepts in the Data Architecture and Management Designer Exam Guide

Here is the exam outline:


In reviewing the exam outline with the category weightings, anticipate approximately these many questions per exam category:

  • Data Modeling: 20% (12 questions)
  • Conceptual Design: 15% (9 questions)
  • Master Data Management: 10% (6 questions)
  • Metadata Management: 7% (~4 questions)
  • Data Archiving: 10% (6 questions)
  • Data Governance: 7% (~4 questions)
  • Business Intelligence, Reporting, and Analytics: 10% (6 questions)
  • Data Migration: 10% (6 questions)
  • Performance Tuning: 11% (~6 questions)

Normally, I would say focus on the categories with the greatest weightings but in the case of this exam, other than the Data Modeling (20%) and Conceptual Design (15%), the rest of the categories, for the most part, have the same weightings. I would say do your best to learn the various categories.

2. Increase Your Knowledge. Hit the Trails. Play in Your Dev Org. Find Resources.

I attended the Application Architect bootcamp, which was part of TrailheaDX bootcamp. This covered both Sharing and Visibility Designer and Data Architecture and Management Designer exams taught by CTAs. The bootcamp costs about $2K+, additional to the TrailheaDX conference fee. In all honesty, the bootcamp focused heavily on the Sharing and Visibility Designer exam and less so on the Data Architecture and Management Designer exam.

If attending the bootcamp is cost prohibitive, I recommend going through the material in the below Trailmix, which includes completing trailhead modules:


Of the content in the Trailmix, the bootcamp CTA instructors recommended that we read and  know the Query & Search Optimization Cheat Sheet and Best Practices for Deployments with Large Data Volumes

I was fortunate enough to have a 28x Salesforce certified and fellow MVP Mayak Srivastava share with me his 75-page notes he took when he studied for the exam. Wow!

I also referenced content from Ladies Be Architect study groups for the Data Architecture and Management Designer Exam.

Additionally, I used Gemma Emmett‘s blog post “Salesforce Certified Data Architecture & Management Designer Exam Tips

Unfortunately, at the time of this blog’s publication, there are no practice mock exams available for this certification. However, I do know that Focus on Force is working on the study guide and practice tests for this exam. I’d suggest checking the site to see if they’re available. If you need to use flashcards to study, please use quizlets with caution. These which may or may not be correct. If you then base your studying off of potential wrong answers, that can throw you to a loop. I’d suggest that you verify the answers using Google.


3. Moment of Truth

Ok. Full disclosure. I felt this exam was all over the place with its questions. For the most part, it was very use case heavy and not sure any studying would have prepared me for some of the questions. Some questions were pretty detailed, requiring you to know what is doable declaratively and when you need to go programmatic. There were many that I read and eliminated answers based on knowing what actual Salesforce configuration options. Some, I just plain guessed. I marked several as “Marked for Review” and upon review, came to the same conclusion for answers as the initial.

I did not have any sense of confidence that I would pass the exam. In fact, I thought this may be the first exam I fail. (Not that there’s anything wrong with failing. My friend, Michelle Hansen, says “You either earn it or you learn it. Either way it’s a step forward in your journey.” My only fear was not knowing what to study for because there was a lot of ground/categories to cover.)

So, I click on the “Submit” button and covered my eyes with my left hand.

I must have done better than I thought as I was rewarded with the sweet word “PASS!” on the laptop monitor. I let out a little laugh (as a sign of relief) that I passed this. Whew.

Some of this came from studying and some of this was just plain experience.

I spoke to others who also took the exam and they had similar experiences as well with this exam.

4. Bottom Line, Here’s What You Need to Know…

  • Have general knowledge of config/OOTB vs AppExchange vs code.
  • Understand the various data relationships and how each behave: master-detail, lookup, hierarchy, self reference, many-to-many.
  • Understand data migration options, the steps that need to be taken before data is loaded into Salesforce, know what needs to be turned off during data loads.
  • Understand the order of data loading object records to minimize lock contention.
  • Understand techniques and approaches for MDM, which system is responsible for mastering the data.
  • Understand what you need to consider for large volume data loads.
  • Know under what use cases you should use an external object, skinny table, etc.
  • Understand what is an external and indirect relationship in an external object.
  • Understand when to use and the benefits of data loader and bulk api.
  • Understand the benefits and constraints of SOAP versus REST API and when to use either.
  • Understand what Pk chunking is and when to use it.
  • Understand how Salesforce performs searching, how indexing works, which fields can be indexed and which ones cannot.
  • Understand the rules of data governance and understand the roles (data steward, data owner and data governor).
  • Know what tools to use to ensure data quality.
  • Know what reporting/dashboards/analytics are available OOTB or from the AppExchange.
  • Understand what can cause performance issues and methods to use to improve/avoid it (parallel sharing rule calculation, granular locking, deferred sharing maintenance, account data skew).

Best of luck to you! Let me know how you do.

4 thoughts on “How I Studied for the Data Architecture and Management Designer Exam

  1. Hello, thanks for sharing! is it possible to share the 75 page study notes resume ? would be great help for studying!


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