Limitations of Salesforce Duplicate Management
While there are ways to find and merge duplicates natively in Salesforce, the process is not perfect. It requires a lot of time, resources, and comes with limitations.
In this article we’ll touch on the ways to find and merge duplicate records in Salesforce, the limitations you’ll want to consider, and a better solution for effectively eliminating duplicates.
How to find duplicates in Salesforce
There are two ways to find duplicates: on a per-record basis or globally.
Finding duplicates one-by-one
The most familiar way to find duplicates is on a per record basis.
In Classic UI, duplicate Leads are found using the “Find Duplicates” button on the individual record page. Duplicate Contacts are found on an Account page by clicking the “Merge Contacts” button in the related contacts lists (merging of Contacts is limited to Contacts associated with the same Account record). And duplicate Accounts are found by selecting “Merge Accounts” at the bottom of the Accounts home tab. From there, you must search by Account name to find possible duplicates.
In Lightning UI there is a Potential Duplicates component that can be added to page layouts which will display possible duplicates if they exist. This display is on a record-by-record basis and is not a global report. Lightning UI does allow for merging of Contacts not associated with the same Account.
Limitations of identifying duplicates natively in Salesforce:
• When presented with a list of duplicates, it can be difficult to determine if the match presents true duplicates. For example, when looking at a list of possible Account duplicates, you can only see a small number of fields on the page, like the name of the account. The display does not usually provide enough information to make a decision. Other field data is needed, like mailing address.
• In Classic UI, finding duplicate Contacts can only be done on a per Account basis since you the “Merge Contacts” button is only visible on Account pages. In Lightning UI, you are only able to see potential duplicate matches when actively viewing an individual Contact record.
• In Classic UI, searching for duplicate Accounts requires that you already know which ones are duplicated. In Lightning UI, you are only able to see potential duplicate matches when actively viewing an individual Account record.
• The Potential Duplicates component in Lightning cannot be added to custom objects, and there is no duplicate management option in Classic UI for custom objects.
• By default, Salesforce’s duplicate algorithm is very simple and looks at just a few fields, like name, email address, phone, and company name with little variance, and using exact matches. This can be fine to search for more obvious duplicates, but finding hidden dupes requires more sophistication.
• The biggest limitation: all of these methods are very time-intensive, not just because they are done one-by-one. Finding duplicates natively in Salesforce relies on a lot of luck, by just surfing onto an individual record. Getting rid of those duplicates involves a lot of clicking, navigating, screen hopping, decision-making, and hoping your users have the time and patience to deal with the problem. Imagine the time and manpower required for organizations with thousands or millions of records.
If you want to get more granular, use customizable matching rules. Matching rules allow you to define what a duplicate is for your organization by comparing a combination of fields.
Limitations of Salesforce duplicate matching rules:
• Only two matching styles are available: exact and fuzzy matching.
• No more than five matching rules can be activated at a time.
• No more than five matching rules can run on an object.
Finding duplicates throughout entire org
Duplicate jobs use the matching rules described above to find duplicates across your entire org. After a job runs, a list of duplicates is presented and ready for review.
Limitations of Salesforce duplicate jobs:
• Duplicate jobs are only available for the top-tiered editions of Salesforce – Performance and Unlimited. If you are on Enterprise or below, duplicate jobs are not offered.
• Duplicate jobs can run on custom objects, but you can’t compare and merge these duplicates.
• Salesforce states, “In an org with many records, duplicate jobs can fail.” How many records this refers to is unknown.
• Duplicate jobs do not work on required custom fields or encrypted fields.
How to merge duplicates in Salesforce
Regardless of the method you use above to find duplicates, reviewing and merging records in Salesforce is the same. And unfortunately, this process requires a lot of clicks and time.
Limitations of merging duplicates in Salesforce:
• It’s all manual. Records can only be merged one by one and cannot be done in mass or automatically.
• Only two or three records can be merged at one time. If there are more than three matches, the process to clean those records requires rerunning the entire merge process multiple times.
• Choosing the master record is done on a per record basis. The user must review each record to determine which record survives. By default, Salesforce chooses the oldest record as the master. However, in a lot of cases you may wish for the most recently updated record, or the one with the most information, to be the master to ensure the final record has the most accurate, current data.
• Selecting field values can be challenging. While you do have the ability to toggle between the field values of the matching records to select which ones end up on the final record, this process is manual. Salesforce does carry over fields from non-master records if the master record’s field is blank. However, just like choosing the master record, it requires manual review and can be a difficult process. For example, suppose both duplicates have a value in the phone number field. Which one was most recently updated and would be the most accurate? It is impossible to distinguish at a glance.
• Custom objects cannot be merged.
Solution: Invest in a third-party data cleansing tool
One of the best aspects of Salesforce is the ability for third-parties to fill in gaps where the CRM technology falls short.
In 2011, being frustrated Salesforce users ourselves and tired of the tedious process of data cleansing described above, we created Cloudingo – a cloud-based data cleansing platform.
Cloudingo reduces the time and manual work needed for managing duplicates. With a drag-and-drop user interface and customizable filters, ensuring all duplicates are eliminated is a much more streamlined and efficient process.
Deduping in Salesforce vs. Cloudingo
|Matching rules||Exact and fuzzy||Exact and fuzzy
|Active rules/filters||Max 5 per object||Unlimited|
|Records per merge||Max 3 records at a time||Max 250 records at a time|
|Master selector||Manually chosen||Manually or automatically chosen|
|Field selector||Manually chosen||Manually or automatically chosen|
|Merge custom objects||No||Yes|