February Blog Series: Tools We Love
Insights from: Wendell Simmons (Product Management at Fullscope) and Ashley Kleeman (Fullscope Microsoft CRM Business Analyst)
Is your Microsoft Dynamics CRM data clean? Has it ever been? In reality, a production system is never 100% clean. Data integration logic from other systems can catch most duplicates but not all. And users, regardless of their best intentions, can inadvertently create extra records. The results, if ignored, is a growing mountain of duplicate and extraneous data that screws up the works; reports & analytics are off, users are frustrated, and confidence in the whole process erodes. To get a perspective on the problem and the solution I called up Ashley to uncover the dirt on duplicate data.
Ashley, data is a dirty word in many organizations, meaning that the CRM data is contaminated with duplicate records that screw up reporting and operations from the beginning.
Data cleansing is an on-going struggle for almost everyone. Many companies put a lot of effort into cleaning the initial data load of a new CRM system, but almost immediately duplicate records start to pop up.
The initial sources vary widely. Lazy staff entering prospects and leads as new records without checking the database first is the most obvious source. But batch data imports or first-time Outlook synchronization can create hundreds of duplicate records in a matter of minutes. Also, complex workflows might create un-necessary records as well.
I thought Dynamics CRM has built in duplicate detection, then I heard that CRM 2013 was released without that capability. Wouldn't that function prevent duplicates?
It's true that the initial release of CRM 2013 did not have the setup screens for duplicate detection, but the subsequent Service Pack brought back the screens. And yes, this feature can catch a lot of duplicates if it's setup properly. It's a three step setup process:
- First duplication detection has to be enabled for organization.
- Next each entity requiring the service must be enabled and lastly,
- Duplicate detection rules must be setup and activated.
That's a great first step towards cleaner data, Ashley. In closing, what would you advise for anyone still struggling with dirty data?
- First, audit your CRM data detection setup. If you miss one step, it won't work (see above).
- Second, you can run the detection rules interactively and as a scheduled batch process. Monitor these processes regularly since something as simple as publishing an entity change will deactivate the rules automatically.
- And lastly, analyze your duplicate history to identify the root cause. Is there an integration point or individual generating the bulk of duplicates? Finding and correcting the root cause is the best practice of all.
There you have it, folks, steps you can take right now to tame that dirty data and get your CRM initiative running at peak performance.