In the spirit of David Letterman's occasional feature "Stupid People Tricks," it's time once again for a new list of errors that lead to corrupted CRM \n\nrecords. Past quizzes have focused on \n\nSysAdmins and consultants, but now it's time to find out how your users and their business policies can contribute to data pollution. So here's David Taber-man's newest Top 10 List of Stupid Ways Your Users Can Corrupt Your CRM Data. And yes, I've seen specific examples of \n\nevery one of these this year.Number 10: Connect Outside Systems Directly to Your CRM SystemWhether it's a Web form, a direct integration adapter, or even a lowly file import, connecting your CRM system directly to an outside data source \n\nis an almost guaranteed mess. Either you get duplicate records, bad field updates, or -- for extra credit -- both! Better to use middleware, ETL tools, \n\nor internal code to trap the bad updates before they occur. Number 9: Dedupe Accounts Without Considering External SystemsEveryone knows duplicate records are bad, but it's better to keep them around than to do fallacious merges. In most CRM systems, the account \n\nobject is the top of the information pyramid. If your CRM system is integrated with anything outside, an account merge will cascade to several \n\nobjects in the other systems...and they may not be able to comply. Or they pretend to comply, but immediately recreate duplicate objects back in \n\nyour CRM. Since merges are not automatically reversible, do some real system engineering before you try merging accounts.Number 8: Create a Lead Every TimeFor a variety of reasons, users may insist that a new lead be created every time there's a prospect inquiry. This may be to give proper credit to \n\npartners, or show the yield of marketing events, or simply reflect a fear that "they'll never get that form fixed." This practice is a guaranteed dupe \n\ngenerator, frustrating users and almost guaranteeing bogus reports. Just say no: this is what activities, campaigns, and custom objects are \n\ndesigned to avoid.Number 7: Insist that Leads and Contacts Can't be DedupedLike Number 8, users will have lots of "good" reasons why leads can't be deduped against contacts. But deduping is a solid requirement -- there \n\nis no satisfactory alternative. So fix duplication issues at four levels: semantics, business process, system code, and administrative procedures.Number 6: Use Lead Sources Instead of CampaignsMost CRM systems have a lead source field on the lead, contact, and even opportunity objects. These are fine for toy systems, and they're \n\nimmediately satisfying to the novice user. But they are an abomination because they can't represent the multiple "touches" that are the reality of \n\nsales cycles. Furthermore, in too many systems, users are allowed to change the lead source at will. The right path: use campaigns and activities \n\nthat show the chronology of marketing actions and prospect responses.Number 5: Don't Enter Any Information in the CRM Until Just Before the Deal ClosesA classic behavior stimulated by inappropriate sales management is sales reps not entering deals until the very last minute, to register their win \n\nwith zero risk of losing. In itself, this doesn't corrupt data...but it does commit a deliberate sin of omission: you can't tell how long the sales cycle \n\nreally takes, and you can't tell what your win-rate is. The corruption here isn't data, it's business process and management.Number 4: Change the Amount Field When You Lose an OppAnother classic of sales mismanagement is to allow reps to change opportunity amount values to $0 when a deal is lost. This is a great way to \n\nmake it look like the only deals you lose are the worthless ones. A variation of this folly is to change the value of the opportunity amount field to \n\nthe overall size of the prospect revenues. This is a great way of indicating the size of the target market, but it's an even better way of corrupting \n\nthe meaning of the pipeline. Number 3: Don't Lock Down FieldsOnce things have started to percolate with a lead, contact, or opportunity, it's important to lock down the values of key fields: lead source, \n\namount, close date, opportunity owner, etc. To not do this is to invite silly misrepresentations of your sales cycle.Number 2: Let Users Delete Anything They WantIf fields must be locked down, the ability to delete entire records should be carefully regulated. Users tend to hide perceived weakness, so \n\nthey'll delete records. Instead, these records should be zapped so they disappear from view, but can still be analyzed for process troubleshooting. \n\nExtra--Extra--Read all about it here.And the Number 1 way for users to corrupt CRM data...Let Users Write All their Own ReportsThis isn't corrupting individual records, it's about corrupting the meaning of the data. Users will not make the right choices in objects, joins, \n\nfilters, Booleans, formulas, concatenations...you get the idea. Avoid embarrassing confrontations between groups with their Great New Reports, all \n\nof which have the wrong answers. Instead, designate a dedicated report-building person who is the source for all CRM analytics, organization-wide. \n\nYes, it will seem to slow you down. Except for when you care about the right answer.David Taber is the author of the new Prentice Hall book, "Salesforce.com Secrets of \n\nSuccess" and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy \n\nfocused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems. SalesLogistix clients are in North America, Europe, Israel, and India, and \n\nDavid has over 25 years experience in high tech, including 10 years at the VP level or above.Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline.