In the spirit of David Letterman's occasional feature "Stupid People Tricks," it's time once again for a new list of common errors that lead to corrupted CRM records. We did the first Top 10 Data Corruption Tricks a few months ago. Now it's time for the next layer of the onion...and yes, it may make you cry.
Last time, we focused on real-time corruption bloopers that happen in the course of data imports, data cleanup, and other mass update operations. Now we're looking at setup and configuration errors that lead to a mess over time. So here's David Taber-man's Top 10 List of Stupid Ways to Corrupt Your CRM Data...
Number 10: Specify ZIP Codes as Numbers
ZIP codes are numbers, right? Well, except for the spaces in international postal codes and the dashes in ZIP-9 codes. But the best part is what ZIPs- as-numbers do to New England postal codes: leading zero suppression. This gives some Massachusetts towns ZIPs that are 2 digits long. Yum.
Number 9: Set up Narrative Notes as Long-Text Fields
Notes are text. Perfect for long-text fields. Except when, over time, the Notes get so long that scrolling through 32,000 characters annoys the user. And when you can't really report on those long-text fields, or use them in filters. And when you need to merge records, causing one of the record's long-text fields to be thrown out in preference to the other. Narrative text should always go in related note or task records, not in the main data record for an account, contact, or deal.
Number 8: Overload Values
Remember the old trick of encoding more than one data item in a single field? Saves time, doesn't it? Just like it has over the last 50 years of IT...and in the long run, those overloaded values will become inscrutable or even unusable as your data evolves. Just like in the 80's, just say no.
Number 7: Ignore Who Owns the Record
In CRM systems, more than in any other kind of enterprise software, ownership of data is quite important (and politically sensitive). If you don't properly set record ownership, the proper sales/marketing person won't be able to see the data. So they'll create duplicate records that confuse everyone. Any time you do a data update, make sure to check that the record ownership is right before you hit "save."
Number 6: Set up lots and lots of data Validation Rules
This one is counter-intuitive, as the whole point of validation rules is to make sure that junk data never gets entered. Here's the problem: those pesky users. If you have too many data validation rules (or their corollary, required fields), the users will game the system with junk values that pass the rules, but lower data quality. Or, worse, they'll stop entering the data at all. This is a slippery slope you must watch out for.