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Data Cleaning 101: 4 common data problems solved

This is the third instalment of our Data Cleaning 101 mini-series. So far we’ve explored why clean data is essential in Salesforce, and introduced 5 steps to start you on your journey to cleaner data. Now it’s time to dive into the details! We’re going to examine the different problems you probably have with your data and take a closer look at some of our favorite ways to tackle them!

The problems

  • users entering bad data
  • unstandardized data and messy reports
  • duplicates and more duplicates
  • inaccurate old data

Users entering bad data 

It’s great if you prioritize clean data, but if your users can still input bad data with no barriers, we’re back to square one. 

For this problem, we’re looking for solutions that will clean data at the point of entry.

Set up validation rules

Validate fields to meet set criteria before the data gets saved to your database. Design them carefully and with the end-user experience in mind.

Use alternative data types

Do you need to have everything as a text field? Could picklists, radio buttons, or checkboxes be used instead for the data you’re storing?

Search the AppExchange

If you’re looking at AppExchange solutions, use our 5 step guide from Part 2 to assess whether the solution resolves your specific problem.

Remember…

It’s important to consider everybody across your Salesforce organization and make changes that also consider the end-user experience.

Unstandardized data and messy reports

As basic as it sounds, ensuring that your data is uniform and standardized will save you time on all kinds of tasks.

For example, if you create a report to find accounts based in Mississippi, imagine if all your records show Mississippi instead of MS or Mississippi, and its various misspellings. No more bloated field filtering, just clean data with uniform reports! 

For this problem, we’re focusing on ways we can better organize our data.

Use international standards

Use internationally-recognized standards to segment your data in the best way possible. They’re designed to be consistent and globally understood!

Run standardization tasks

Consider exporting data to standardize it with your favorite tools then reimport it back into your organization, or look into ways you can automate it within Salesforce.

Other helpful resources for data problems:

  • We loved Salesforce Ben’s Guide to Standardization which provides a handy 5-step guide to help set up order amongst the data format chaos.
  • Apps like IndustryComplete* will streamline industry categorization, SimpleImport* can speed up those importing tasks, and AddressTools* will start standardizing your address data immediately! (There are free versions available too for some of our tools* to get you up and running for no cost!)

Duplicates and more duplicates

If your role involves importing and entering data, duplicates are a constant battle. Dealing with duplicate information or “dupes” is a huge blackhole of time for admins and fundamentally for your business too.

Find a solution that stops or at least clearly alerts you to duplicated data. Have you implemented Duplicate Rules in Salesforce? Or is there a budget for a dedicated duplicate check tool? You have some great options out of the box and also on the AppExchange.

Our recommendations to troubleshoot data problems:

  • If you’re importing data, Excel and Google Sheets have some great duplicate handling tools available. Try them out before importing your data into Salesforce.
  • Duplicate rules in Salesforce are not to be sniffed at! They can be a great free feature if you’re on Professional, Enterprise, Performance, Unlimited, and Developer Editions.
  • And of course, we love SimpleImport Premium’s* multi-field matching to help identify existing records easier, preventing duplicates from being inserted and saved.

Inaccurate old data

Up to 40% of user productivity is lost to incomplete, inconsistent data. Sorting bad data from good wastes 50% of users’ time. These stats alone show how existing bad data is bad for business.

Removing or validating existing data is essential for your users to remain focused and productive. If some data is now redundant, archive or delete it from your system altogether, but if it’s still in use, correct it by updating and validating it. There are plenty of applications that not only draw your attention to the incorrect data, but give you the option to update, change or delete it.

Tips to help refresh that old data:

  • Schedule regular spring cleans of your org – regularly diving into your data is the best way to ensure your data is up to date, and to spot any blackholes of outdated information! Checking through your data every two weeks is best as our Operations Director, Beth, recommends in our 5 step guide (Part 2).
  • Tools that have access to international databases can be an invaluable addition to your org, i.e. looking up address data against postal authorities.

Summary

Now you have the tools and wisdom to win the war against bad data. Let’s recap the main 4 data problems that we’ve managed to tackle, they are:

  • users entering bad data
  • unstandardized and messy data
  • the dreaded duplicates
  • inaccurate old data 

Hopefully, with the facts and resources presented in this final instalment of our Data Cleaning 101 mini-series, you can take full control of your org and clean up your bad data!

Data Cleaning 101: a round up

So now it’s the end of our little crusade against unclean data. But first let’s go over what we’ve added to your data cleaning arsenal.

Data Cleaning 101 has provided you with:

  • a reality check about maintaining clean data in your CRM (blog one),
  • 5 tips to remember before purchasing a solution to figure out what you want to get out of your data (blog two),
  • 4 specific data problems you might have and how to solve them.

We’d love to hear your stories with bad data and the applications that saved your data. Are there any tips you think we should know about? Tell us!

Or, whether you’ve simply enjoyed learning about data and data cleaning let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

I want to start cleaning up my data problems!

Got issues with your data in your Salesforce org that you’re ready to tackle? Get in touch and see if one (or more) of our solutions can help clean the dirty data stinking up your CRM. 

  • AddressTools*
  • SimpleImport*
  • IndustryComplete*

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