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Clean Up Your Salesforce Data

Salesforce Salesforce Administrator Data Hygiene Industry Insight

6 Tips to Promote Data Quality in Your Salesforce Org

Data is the cornerstone of building your business. It drives sales and marketing and guides product development. It can help you predict what may be in store for your business and your customers next week, next quarter, or next year. Without it, it’s nearly impossible to grow — or even maintain the status quo. 

The problem is, turning all that data into something usable isn’t always easy. Most companies have datasets that are fragmented, duplicative, and, quite frankly, a mess. 

You have Salesforce, so you know the potential to make better use of your data is there... but you’re not quite sure where to begin. 

We get that. And we can help! Here are six easy tips to put your data to work for your business.

How to Clean Up Your Salesforce Data in 6 Steps 

  1. Establish a Data Management Team
  2. Use Reports and Dashboards to Identify the Problems
  3. Create Duplicate-Catching Rules
  4. Develop a Data-Hygiene Schedule and Maintenance Plan
  5. Control Data Capture and Input
  6. Put Your Data to Use - Using your data regularly helps keep it clean!

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1. Establish a Data Management Team 

No time to read it now? Download this blog post as a PDF to read it later! 

Data clean up should be a team project. Chances are, you didn’t make this mess alone — and you’re going to need buy-in from a wide variety of people to clean things up and keep them in order. 

Identify key individuals in your organization to serve on a Data Management Team. This doesn’t have to be a huge committee — two or three folks will be sufficient if you pick the right people. 

One of the key goals of this team will be to ensure you know what information you absolutely need to have access to and what the data will be used for. Keeping that in mind, you may want to include someone from sales and/or IT. 

Each member of this committee will have something to contribute, from a big-picture view of how this will be used to the minute details required by the daily user. To make the most of this team, a “data quality leader” should be identified and all team members should have a specific purpose. 

Your team members should serve both as ambassadors and enforcers. They should work with other people in your organization to find out how they currently use data and how they might be able to use it more effectively. With that input, your team should develop policies and processes to whip your data into shape — and make sure all users follow the new standards and procedures.   

Once you’ve identified your team members, move on to Step 2. 

No time to read it all now? Download this blog post as a PDF to read it later! 

2. Use Reports and Dashboards to Identify the Problems 

Ever had a closet in your house that’s a complete nightmare? One you just avoid looking in because it stresses you out? (Or is that just us?) Well… a messy database can feel a lot like that. 

But to tackle this problem, you’ve got to start by taking a hard look at your system and assessing where you are. 

Data troubles can come from a variety of places:

  • User input – when your data came in to Salesforce, it had issues with accuracy, completeness, consistency, or duplicates;
  •  Misaligned third-party integrations - your company got new software and the merger wasn’t quite compatible... and now you have a bigger mess than before;  or
  • Poorly defined data policies – the data came in great… three years ago. But a lack of policies around upkeep means it hasn’t been touched since then.

So how do you pinpoint your problem areas? 

First, identify all the places your data comes from – online forms from your website, manual entry, or on-the-fly updates from your employees in the field. Check for duplicates, completeness, age, accuracy, and consistency. Are there consistent breakdowns? Are you noticing that most of the fields from your online forms only capture a third of the information you actually need? Are the fields input by your sales team a mishmash of naming conventions (Acme Corporation, Incorporated vs. Acme Corp. vs. Acme)? 

One way to accomplish this is to install and run the Data Quality Dashboards App from the Salesforce AppExchange. This app checks for data quality and record completeness and allows you to see which records tend to get skipped and which ones need attention right now. 

Additionally, utilizing “Exception Reports” (also referred to as “Cross Filters”) in Salesforce allows you to run reports and see where data is missing in key fields. For example, if you are planning to send a direct mailing, but don’t have access to addresses, you can quickly sift through and find only the contacts that have the necessary fields completed. 

No time to read it all now? Download this blog post as a PDF to read it later! 

3. Establish Duplicate-Catching Rules 

Now that you have a better idea of what your data is saying, where it’s coming from and how it’s being used, it’s time to scrub it up. If you encountered a particularly messy system integration, never developed a policy for data input, or have employees who barely have the time to do their daily tasks, it’s likely your system is full of duplicates. Fortunately, Salesforce has the capability to effectively manage duplicates by simply adjusting the standard duplicate settings or by creating custom rules.

How to Set Up Duplication Rules in Salesforce

  1. In your Salesforce org, search for Duplicate Rules in Set Up. 
  2. Select “Edit” to change an existing rule or “New Rule.” 
  3. Select the object the rule will apply to and enter the rule details (name, description and security settings) and select the actions you want to occur when a user begins to input a duplicate. At this point, you can also customize the alert text that users will receive.  A more detailed breakdown is available here

You may also want to consider DupeCatcher and Duplicate Check for Salesforce, free apps available through the AppExchange.

No time to read it all now? Download this blog post as a PDF to read it later! 


Ready to tackle your data clean-up?

Download our free step-by-step guide to cleaning up your Salesforce data. 

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4. Develop a Data Hygiene Schedule and Data Management Plan 

Sadly, these days, datasets tend to deteriorate quickly. Between employee turnover and business mergers and acquisitions, you don’t have much time to bask in the glow of complete and accurate data before it’s out of date again. To keep your data fresh, it’s important to develop and implement a thorough data management plan and data hygiene schedule. 

Typically, a data management plan includes guidelines for how to to create, process and maintain data. When you’re creating your data management plan, use the opportunity to streamline the look of all your existing and incoming data.

Things to Include in a Data Governance Plan

  • Naming Conventions - Do you include suffixes and abbreviations?
  • Formatting - How are your dates and currencies represented? (To ensure consistency, set up Validation Rules)
  • Roles and Ownership - Clarify the breakdown of responsibilities for record ownership and data changes. 
  • Security and Permissions - Should all users be able to view all leads or should permissions be set up regionally?
  • Workflow - Do all back-end processes and stages a record goes through make logical sense? (Need a refresher in setting up workflows? Click here.) 

Next, set up deadlines and include expectations for weekly, quarterly and yearly maintenance. A few examples are included below. 

Sample Data Maintenance Schedule

Weekly:

  • On a weekly basis, the Data Quality Leader will monitor data quality dashboards and make team members responsible for correcting errors and missing information. 
  • Data will also be archived and backed up using the Data Export Service in Salesforce. (Step-by-step instructions are available here.) 

Quarterly:

  • Team members will utilize reporting to dedupe records not caught by existing matching rules, and identify if additional matching rules are needed. 

Yearly:

  • Purge old contacts (those with no activity in 5 or more years).
  • Download the Setup Audit Trail twice a year to track setup history. This app tracks the recent setup changes that have been made to your org. This is most useful in checking for consistency if you have more than one admin making updates. 

See also: 5 Signs You Need a Salesforce Admin 

No time to read it all now? Download this blog post as a PDF to read it later! 

5. Control Data Capture and Implement Your Data Management Plan 

Our first four tips are focused on cleaning up your existing data. While those were being implemented, new datasets were coming in – perhaps as fragmented and polluted as before. So you aren’t caught in an endless data loop, consider implementing an approval process during the data entry phase. 

You already know what data you need to capture. Make sure those fields are required during the entry process so you aren’t back at square one with fragmented, incomplete, or unusable datasets. 

If you need to capture additional, essential information to your business, you can create custom fields. Again, validation rules and field settings come in handy for enforcing accurate entry. . 

When setting up custom fields, consider implementing single-select picklists when possible to cut down on typing errors and make reporting easier. 

Validation rules confirm that before it can be saved, all entered data meets all the standards you have specified (i.e. area codes must be included in all phone numbers). These rules can include an expression or formula that looks at one or more fields and return an error message or a “true” or “false” value. Ensure your Validation Rules encompass all the appropriate fields (i.e. companies, contracts, address validation, email templates, naming conventions, and quality standards). When employed, validation rules can ensure fields are input consistently, and cut down on incomplete and incorrect entries.  

No time to read it all now? Download this blog post as a PDF to read it later! 

6. Use Your Data 

Now that your data is cleaned, organized, and ready to go… it’s time to use it! One of the most effective ways to ensure your data stays useful and relevant is to use it with your team on a regular basis  — ideally, daily or weekly. 

Set up dashboards to help your team members manage and review the right information and stay on-target to reach their goals. By making the data meaningful to them, they’ll start to value having accurate information at their fingertips — and understand the problems sloppy or incomplete data entry creates. 

Regularly reviewing your data ensures any errors can be caught — and fixed! — quickly. It also provides the opportunity to identify and address any structural issues without having to restart the whole process in a few years. 

Like this post? Take it with you! Download this blog post as a PDF to reference it later.

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Are you in the middle of a data quality project? Share your “lessons learned” below! 

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Need help cleaning up your data? Work with one of our Salesforce-certified experts through our Virtual Admin Program

References: 

 


Ready to tackle your data clean-up?

Download our free step-by-step guide to cleaning up your Salesforce data. 

Get the Free Guide!