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6 Data Management Habits That Will Help You Succeed in Your Role

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As Salesforce Admins, you drive results and deliver business value every day. You automate processes and make them more efficient. You build amazing reports and dashboards to drive insights and provide increased transparency. And, every time you customize Salesforce, you personalize the user experience and help your users and executives do their jobs better.

Salesforce would not be what it is today without your passion and dedication. That’s why, at Salesforce, we’re so dedicated to helping you be successful. One of the best ways to get started is by building strong habits that ensure your success from day one. In our five-part series, Essential Habits for New Admins, we start by defining the four core responsibilities every admin has and the repeatable habits you can develop to make you and your organization successful.

You can watch the overview episode every Friday at 9:30 a.m. PT on Trailhead LIVE. PLUS, dive deeper into the makeup of each core responsibility and its habits in our Essential Habits series: User Management, Data Management, Security, and Actionable Analytics.

Last week, we explored the core responsibility of user management. Today, we’ll look at the second core responsibility, data management. Watch the episode or dive in by reading the blog post below.

Why is data management so critical?

Managing data is probably the most technical of your core responsibilities. As an admin, it’s up to you to ensure that data is displayed and updated according to your business processes. It’s also up to you to make sure that data is clean (so people trust what’s in Salesforce) and backed up regularly.

When it comes to data management, there are six main habits we suggest you adopt to help you in your role:

  1. Export data
  2. Review duplicates
  3. Delete with donuts
  4. Refresh sandboxes
  5. Run Salesforce Optimizer
  6. Create a data dictionary

Six data management habits.

Let’s break down each of these habits!

Essential habit 1: Export your data

The first, and perhaps the most important, tip for managing your data is to make sure your most crucial data is backed up. To do this, you’ll want to ensure you have “Weekly Data Export” permissions — this permission is granted by default only to the System Administrator profile because it enables wide visibility. Once you have this permission, it’s important to schedule the weekly data export in your production org. Our team recommends including all data in your export — it’s always better to be safe than sorry! When you get an email with a link to the .zip file, you’ll need to download it within 48 hours; otherwise, it will be deleted from the server.

Note: If the native tools aren’t giving you all the functionality your business needs, you can also explore AppExchange apps for additional options to help you export and back up your critical information.

Below, we’ve included a blueprint to follow with some setting suggestions for your weekly exports. After you get your settings in place, don’t forget to test it!

Weekly data export recommended settings.

📅 Make it a habit: Export your data once per week, and store that .zip file somewhere safe! Before you know it, this will become second nature.

Essential habit 2: Review duplicates

As a Salesforce Admin, one of your top priorities is making sure that your users can trust the system. One way to do this is by checking for duplicate records.

Luckily for you, Salesforce has some great built-in features that can help you prevent dupes using the Duplicate Management functionality. Account, Contact, and Lead Matching Rules are created by default — these will tell the system which records might be duplicates if they have a similar name, address, and so on. If you have other objects, you can even create your own rules!

As a best practice, you should configure what happens when a potential duplicate is discovered either on creation or editing using the Duplicate Rules. You can allow the user to create the dupe silently, with a warning alert, or completely prevent the dupe from being created in the first place.

You may be tempted to set everything to “prevent,” but we recommend leaving the alert in place and allowing your users to create it. You’ll then be able to see in your duplicate Record Sets — that you’ll review weekly — which users either aren’t paying attention or have their sharing settings set up so that they can’t see the other accounts, leads, or contacts and are creating them.

In order to easily see your potential duplicates and how they’re being created, create a new custom report type using your primary object, like Accounts or Contacts, and the secondary object of Duplicate Record Item. This will allow you to see how many potential dupes have been created, who is creating them, and when they are being created. You can subscribe to this report so you can review it every week, and potentially follow up with individual users who may be having trouble.

Steps for creating a custom duplicates report.

📅 Make it a habit: Every week, you should review your duplicates to see what records people have created or what the system has prevented people from creating.

Essential habit 3: Delete with donuts

Who said deleting data had to be boring? Every month, you can throw a monthly “donuts and deletion” party, where you gather everyone together virtually or in-person, chow down on some donuts (or a fun food of your choice), and purge things like unused reports, fields, and data from your org to keep things streamlined.

You’ll want to review things that users see on a screen, whether it’s individual fields, list views, or reports and dashboards. Rename these with an obvious prefix like ZZZ or TO BE DELETED to show your users what will be purged.

Not sure what to look for when starting your purge? Check out the list below.

Tips for deleting data.

📅 Make it a habit: To create a habit around keeping your org clean and well-maintained, make sure to set up that delete party with some fun snacks every month.

Essential habit 4: Refresh sandboxes

There are two primary reasons why refreshing your sandbox is so important. First, refreshing updates the sandbox’s metadata from its source org. And second, refreshing tells Salesforce when to update a sandbox for a release.

When syncing your sandbox org(s) with production, it’s critical that you select the right sandbox type. Below is a breakdown of the types of sandboxes and what you’d use them for:

  • A Developer sandbox is intended for development and testing in an isolated environment. A Developer sandbox includes a copy of your production org’s configuration (metadata).
  • A Developer Pro sandbox is intended to be used to handle more in-depth development and quality assurance tasks, and for integration testing or user training. It can handle more data than a Dev sandbox.
  • A Partial Copy sandbox is intended to be used as a testing environment. This environment includes a copy of your production org’s configuration (metadata) and a sample of your production org’s data as defined by a sandbox template.
  • A Full sandbox is also intended to be used as a testing environment. However, only Full sandboxes support performance testing, load testing, and staging. Full sandboxes are a replica of your production org, including all data, such as object records and attachments, and metadata.

Note: The refresh intervals for the sandbox depends on the type, so be sure to take that into account. Full sandboxes can only be refreshed every 29 days, whereas a Developer or Developer Pro sandbox can be refreshed everyday.

📅 Make it a habit: To create a habit around refreshing your sandboxes, schedule time on your calendar approximately once a month; however, this is flexible! There will be other times when you’ll need to refresh your sandbox, for example, maybe after you’ve developed an app, tested it, and pushed it to production.

Essential habit 5: Run Salesforce Optimizer

Running Salesforce Optimizer helps you get a baseline for your org and identify specific areas to improve it. You should focus on the most important areas for your business — we recommend downloading the generated PDF to spot the highest-priority items.

For more insight into why Optimizer is awesome for your admin career, check out what Josie Chiles, VP of Admin Relations, has to say about it at the time stamped here [18:04].

📅 Make it a habit: To get in the habit of running Optimizer, schedule it as a task on your calendar quarterly.

Essential habit 6: Create a data dictionary

As a best practice, you should take inventory of every single object and field in your org. Salesforce Anywhere (formerly known as Quip) is a great place to document that!

You’ll need to determine your data types, as well as which department or business function owns that field. You can use an AppExchange app like Config Workbook to get a head start on this, so you don’t have to start from scratch.

To create your own data dictionary, try using this Salesforce Anywhere workbook. It’s a template document from the Non-Profit Starter Pack, but it’s a fabulous example of how a data dictionary should work for you.

📅 Make it a habit: Once you create your data dictionary, you’ll want to update it once a year.

More essential habits

Now that you have a better understanding of the importance of data management, the habits you need to master it, and key takeaways for you to implement, you’re ready to roll! For a bird’s-eye view of all of the suggested habits and timelines for data management, check out our handy calendar below.

Six data management habits on a calendar.

Want to dive deeper? Check out our Trailhead LIVE episode, Essential Habits for Salesforce Admins: Data Management, on demand!

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