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Duplicate Management - have Salesforce finally discovered the Holy Grail?

The Salesforce Spring '15 release saw the introduction of Duplicate Management and we think its a cracking piece of functionality - here we investigate why...

For a long time, duplicate or 'dirty' data in Salesforce has been the bane of a System Administrator's life.  For those of us that live, breathe and preach data integrity in our organisations, seeing the ease with which Salesforce has allowed users to enter data with precious few controls causes us sleepless nights and well-bitten nails!  

Historically, we relied on training our users to search for accounts, contacts, etc. first.  This approach can lead to PICNICs (PICNICs? Problem In Chair Not In Computer - User Error.  Come on, stay with me!).  You are reliant on your user remembering to search, getting the search terminology right/accurate, and being diligent enough to do so every time they are creating a new record.  For me, there is a lot of vulnerability in all of that to be able to rely on it for your data integrity.  And so it proved, as a micro-industry sprang up to manage duplicate data in Salesforce with multiple apps on the AppExchange being developed to solve this problem for you.  I would imagine there are now a few furrowed brows and nervous looks being exchanged by those providers as they look at this new tool and its implementation.

So, what does the new native tool provide?

In Salesforce's own words, it enables you 'to control whether and when you allow users to create duplicate records inside Salesforce; customize the logic that’s used to identify duplicates; and create reports on the duplicates you do allow users to save'.  So when one of your users goes to create a record that shares data with a record already entered on the database, then you can get Salesforce to flag its existence to the user before they go on to save the record - or you can get Salesforce to block it entirely from being able to be saved.  Even if you allow the user to save the record, you can then see all the records that were flagged within a report meaning that potentially dirty data can be found fast and effectively.

And why do we like it so much?

Customisation:  You can set up your duplicate and matching rules so that they match your own organisations, the terminology and the business process that sit behind them.

Retrospective:  Through the ability to automate actions when editing records (and not just creating) we can identify potentially dirty data in our existing database.  This means that even if we are putting this in place after our org has been operating and has already captured a potentially significant amount of data, we can still assess it for duplication.

Disinterruptive:  Yes, this is a word that I might have just made up but I think it does the job!  What I mean by this is that duplicate management doesn't have to act as a block in entering data as it can be set to allow the record to be saved but can flag an alert to the user trying to save it; and it creates a record of the potential duplicate which allows the admin the ability to see that potential duplicates have been identified which can create an action log to be interrogated further and fixed where required.  

Reportable:  Linked to the point before, due to the fact that Salesforce creates a record of the potential duplicates, you can build a custom report type which gives you this data in our usual Salesforce report format making it even easier to find the duplicates.

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