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Salesforce Duplicate Management Isn’t Enough

By September 23, 2020July 30th, 2023No Comments

Whether you are a power Salesforce user or an administrator with occasional contact, you’ve probably been haunted by duplicates in the system. Even though Salesforce comes with some built-in duplicate checking capabilities, they often fall short in identifying all of the various duplicates that exist inside Salesforce. In this blog, we’ll explain why the deduplication management function that comes with your Salesforce subscription doesn’t eliminate all the dupes you have, and we’ll take a look at why third-party apps can.

In order to get the most out of your Salesforce investment, you need to ensure clean and accurate data across Contacts, Leads, Accounts, and any other custom objects.  Your sales teams need to trust the accuracy of the information they are working with,  and your organization needs to comply with various data protection and privacy regulations. However, duplicates in Salesforce can undermine the trust of your sales teams and the accuracy of your customer data.  In addition, duplicates introduce time-consuming tasks that prevent your teams from working efficiently and getting the most value out of the data they have. 

Built-In Salesforce Duplicate Management 

First, let’s take a look at how Salesforce itself checks for duplicates. Salesforce Duplicate Management is one of the core components that’s available in all editions of Salesforce and consists of the following elements: 

  • Matching rules – The system identifies duplicate records based on your definition of duplicates. It is possible to match a record inside a single object or two objects. The matching rule will then compare all of the fields between two records with various matching algorithms. There are different matching rules for each standard object: Leads, Contacts, and Accounts. 
  • Duplicate rule – This rule springs into action only when a user is creating or editing a record. It could either alert them right away that they are about to create a duplicate or it can block them from performing, creating, or editing this record altogether. However, this brings up the question of what to do with the duplicates you already have. This is where the third and final element comes in.
  • Duplicate job – This is a feature that is available only in the Unlimited edition, so if you use the Essential, Professional, or Enterprise editions, you are out of luck. Each individual matching rule will be executed individually and once the process is complete, you will get a Duplicate Record Set.

These limitations of Salesforce duplicate management mean that you will always be grappling with the spectre of duplicates. Let’s take a closer look so you can determine if you need to install third-party apps to help eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, the problem. 

The Issue with Creating More Rules for Managing Duplicates 

Imagine the following scenario: an employee identifies a duplicate record and asks the Salesforce admin why the existing rules did not detect it. The Salesforce admin identifies the loophole in the existing duplicate rules and creates a new rule to fix it. Therefore, if your company relies solely on Salesforce for duplicate detection, you will have to keep creating new rules to identify each type of duplicate. This is simply unsustainable! Think about how much time it will take your admins to create all of these rules and make sure they are working properly. For example, if you have Web-to-Lead enabled, some of the rules could be blocking the leads from coming in. Such constant rule creation and management is unreliable and drains your time and resources. 

There’s Nothing to Prevent the Duplicates from Coming In

Duplicates are stealthy. Even though Salesforce can notify users that they are about to create a duplicate record and even block them from doing so, there are many other ways that duplicates can enter the system. Importing contacts from a spreadsheet and migrating contacts to Salesforce from a previous CRM are just two examples. And Salesforce isn’t the only one. Many third-party duplicate checking apps are struggling with the inability to catch all dupes. If we stick with the contact importing example mentioned above, both Salesforce and those apps require the user to import the contacts first, and then it would run the duplicate check. However, such an approach puts you on the defensive since you always have to be on the lookout for new duplicates. 

Limitation on Mass Merges

Let’s say you have hundreds of thousands or even millions of records that contain thousands of duplicates. The built-in Salesforce duplicate management system will only allow you to merge three of those duplicate records at a time. Imagine how much time this is going to cost you. While it is possible to ask your admins to create and run an Apex script, you still run into the issue of fuzzy duplicates we mentioned earlier because one script will not be able to catch every type of duplicate. The upshot? You will have to keep adjusting the existing script or write new ones. 

Can’t Do a Cross-Object Object Duplicate Job 

We mentioned earlier the three elements that make up Salesforce’s duplicate management process: matching rules, duplicate rules, and duplicate jobs. While it is possible to match records in a single object or a different one, you cannot perform a duplicate job across objects. This means that if you have one record in Leads and an identical one in Contacts, Salesforce will not be able to pick this up. This problem can be even worse if you have custom objects. However, once again, we need to keep in mind that this is something that you can find only  in the Unlimited edition of Salesforce, to begin with. 

The Matching Algorithm is Limited 

Finding the right matching algorithm can be tricky because you need to catch all of the various types of duplicates without creating false positives. Therefore, the matching rules need to account for the so-called “fuzzy” duplicates; i.e., records that are not perfectly identical but are in fact the same record. The built-in duplicate checking functionality does not provide such an algorithm and it will even be difficult to fine-tune such an algorithm in third-party apps if the product is not flexible enough to accommodate your needs. Another thing you should look for is a weighing method. For example, if an email address is a more important factor for detecting duplicates, then the algorithm should give it more weight than something like a first name, or company name. 

There’s No Way to Automate the Process

Salesforce allows you to merge record groups from the list of duplicates, but you have to open up each one manually to see if, in fact, they are duplicates. Not only is this very time-consuming but, for organizations with hundreds of thousands or even millions of records, this is simply not practical. It would be much simpler to install an app that can automatically check for duplicates and merge the needed records.

No Support for Deduplication of Custom Objects 

Salesforce comes with standard objects built-in: accounts, contacts, and leads, and these are the only objects that Salesforce will let you merge. A lot of companies use other objects like opportunities or create custom objects to store information that is unique to their organization. While it is fairly easy to create custom objects, keep in mind that what’s going on under the hood is very complicated. Very often, users give these objects “lazy” names like “Property 1” for example. This can cause a lot of confusion and lead to a severe duplicate record problem. It is important to know that you will not be able to run duplicate jobs to compare and merge records in custom objects in Salesforce alone. Support for custom objects will be crucial. The good news is that most, if not all, duplicate checking apps in the AppExchange provide support for custom objects. 

Handling Large Volumes of Data 

Salesforce itself acknowledges this issue in the Trailblazers Community. If your company works with large data volumes, which is tens of thousands of records, then the duplicate jobs performed by Salesforce will not be enough. This problem will be even more apparent in large enterprises that work with millions of records. When working with such volumes of data, you will need to install an app from the AppExchange because all of the information will simply overwhelm the existing rules, and the duplicate issue will only get worse. 

Implement a Comprehensive Deduplication Solution That Will Solve All of These Problems 

Since there are many loopholes in Salesforce’s duplicate management processes, it would be much easier to solve all of these issues with a single product. Here are just some of the features that distinguish DataGroomr:

  • DataGroomr uses machine learning to identify duplicates in any way they appear and will “remember” to identify such duplicates without being programmed to do so.
  • DataGroomr scans files for duplicates before they are uploaded into Salesforce. Other products often condemn you to the duplicate horror of new dupes added on top of existing duplicates. 
  • DataGroomr presents an easy setup process so you can log in and get started right away.  A side-by-side comparison of records lets you append the fields for the master record or use inline editing to define new values as you deduplicate.
  • The algorithm used to identify duplicates is customizable so you can adjust it to your individual workflows. 

There’s no doubt that DataGroomr will exorcise your duplicate data so you can achieve better data faster than with other products. The magic is in the machine learning aspect of DataGroomr and the proprietary algorithms that take the time and hassles out of the entire process of deduping. Contact us today for a free trial and see for yourself. 




Steven Pogrebivsky

Steve Pogrebivsky has founded multiple successful startups and is an expert in data and content management systems with over 25 years of experience. Previously, he co-founded and was the CEO of MetaVis Technologies, which built tools for Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce and other cloud-based information systems. MetaVis was acquired by Metalogix in 2015. Before MetaVis, Steve founded several other technology companies, including Stelex Corporation which provided compliance and technical solutions to FDA-regulated organizations.