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Why Salesforce Data Stewardship is a Team Effort 

By 02.16.23 Small janitor figurines cleaning a keyboard
Reading time: 4 minutes

“Our Salesforce has bad data, it’s unreliable.” That’s not something any leader wants to hear after a company invests into the platform, but it’s easy to get into a “this is just the way it is” mindset. Don’t let that happen. 

The data in Salesforce is a combination of many factors. In many orgs, users (or even customers) input the fields, sometimes limited by rules such as dependent picklists, workflow rules, or procedures that they have been trained to follow. In some situations, fields are pulled in from purchased data or another database. The most critical information for each record can be made into a required field. But what about the rest of the information? Let’s focus on record completeness.

If someone wants to be able to pull an accurate report on which industries have the most opportunities, the industry field would need to actually be populated on the majority of accounts. Many users are skipping this field, and the Salesforce team may receive a concern about ‘bad reporting.’ Users skip a non-required field for two reasons:

  • It’s not worth their time
  • They don’t understand it

1. It’s not worth their time

Pulling a report of which industries have the most Closed-Won opportunities would help drive marketing targeting, and potentially drive greater revenue for the company, but does each user actually see a benefit to themselves each time they fill this out? Is it required for commission or used in any contest or audit? Is it an indicator for promotion, raises or bonuses, or will they get a pat on the back for filling this out every time? If the user does not see a difference in their lives when they fill out this field, it will get skipped.

How to make it worth their time

Require it: Have an important checkbox that ought to be enforced? Convert it into a yes/no/null picklist and require it. Remember that you can require fields at different stages of some records, or require them only if other conditions are met. These top-down policies can help create data consistency for easy wins. Even adding a “Don’t Know” option to a picklist and requiring it may result in more complete data because it takes almost as long to skip the field as to properly select it.

Contests: Tell the team at the end of the month that you will be picking an optional field that should be filled out more often than it is and reward small prizes to the person who’s got the highest percentage of their record base and the highest total number of records populated with this field. Whether you have a small or large number of records, there is a goal to shoot for.

Audits: Consider occasionally reviewing a random person’s record base for a single important field’s accuracy. Even if there is no consequence, knowing that this is part of your data stewardship will encourage more accurate field tracking. Be transparent, fair, and consistent with your methods.

Mini-audits: Have managers occasionally review a small group of related records and review if enough is being captured before moving along. Communicate the fields of concern, why data stewardship matters, and make this a standardized part of coaching across managers.

Limit noise: There are often many more optional fields at play. At some point a seller may want to stop asking targeting questions and start diving into offerings. Every extra field on the page is competing for attention. For key pages, consider ranking fields by importance to your business unit and having other business units do the same. When you complete this exercise, you may find that some fields are rarely populated, and not useful to anyone. Remove obsolete and irrelevant fields from the page. This is also a good time to evaluate page layouts.

2. They don’t understand it

Unfamiliar phrases in field names, picklists that have options that are too similar, or a lack of clarity on ownership of populating a field can all lead to incomplete data. Sometimes a simple help-text hover can add context, but if there isn’t help text, the field name is all they get. Don’t assume acronyms well-known by one department are known by everyone. 

How to help them understand it

Help text: Spell it out, define the terms, and put in who adds it or where it is used if applicable. Help text is a great way to get more information into limited page real estate.

Limit noise: Each field is a new field to memorize. Limiting fields helps users narrow their focus and will make training that much easier.

Training: Have managers proactively reach out for questions on fields that users don’t understand. Make sure that every user has time to get their questions answered. Have documentation on each object if more detail is needed for any of the fields or processes. If you record videos, keep them short.

You may have noticed limit noise came up in the solutions for both reasons a user may be skipping a field, thus impacting record completeness. It sounds simple, just permanently delete the fields we don’t need. However, even with the infamous “where is this used,” it can still be difficult to rule out the possibility of someone somewhere caring about a field (or object for that matter), especially one with an obscure name or a name close to something that you know is in use.

Removing obsolete or lesser-known fields is a whole-business task because removing valuable fields could negatively impact any part of the business. Gather your business leaders, and make the org you deserve. Learn how Silverline can help you clean up your data.


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