Custom Objects - Go the Extra Mile

A lot of times good ideas pop into our heads and we just jump on them.  Little thought goes into how or why we are doing it.  That is great when it pertains to something like runnergoing out for a run but sometimes it is not a good idea when it will have an impact on how we want our org to work in the future.  For instance training for a 5k when you have been running for years seems simple but we all know when it comes to a marathon, you have to strategically plan your training and follow a routine.  So why would you want to jump right into creating a custom object without giving it some thought?  It seems simple, give the object a name, add some fields that you want your data to be stored in and click save.  Instantly we have a custom object created but will it stand up to the test of time? Like running, you have to evaluate what the overall course will be.  Sure you can head out the door and just run but are you ready for the hills or the uneven pavement?  Much like planning a running course, you need to know where your data is going.  How will it be used once released to the end user?  Many considerations should be made before creating new fields in a custom object.   Just because the data is coming from another system into your Salesforce org as a numeric, doesn’t always mean that is the way it should be stored.  A lot people over step the data analysis stage.  Looking at your data is key.  You wouldn’t go for a run in flip flops and expect to go far.  Much like data, you would not expect to put numeric data into text field and not expect to do a lot of coding to convert it back to numeric to do calculations.  Having a plan of attack will save a lot of frustration later down the road.

Before starting out for a run, you have to consider many things like weather, what to wear and how far you are going.  Much like the preparation for a run, data can go through the same considerations.  Will the data be used for reporting?  Having a clear understanding how reporting works would be the first step to knowing if the data will work for you.  Then the next step would be to understand the who, what, where, when and how in order to determine the needs of the report which will take asking the right questions of your users.  I have never met a marathon runner that did not ask first what the course was like before running it.  This step may save hours of rework if you know that the field you are creating is going to be used in a summary report that will help predict next year’s revenue.

So once you have put some thought into the data and how it can be used, it would be safe to start creating fields.  Field types is just as important as picking the right running shoes.  If you pick the wrong shoes, it is hard to take them back in middle of a run.  Picking a wrong field type can cause some discomfort also, especially if there has been any coding, validation rules, workflow rules, etc. written already.   Salesforce will not allow you change field type if it has been referenced in code.  You will need to have your developer comment out code and sometimes even delete references in order to make the change.  This can be as painful as getting a blister with the wrong shoes.  Before creating a numeric field, I like to ask my clients a couple key questions like: Are there leading zeroes? Will there be a decimal? Do they needed the data returned in currency fashion?  Sometimes asking the obvious will save you from hours of rework and reloading data.

When creating a new custom object, there are many things to consider.  Much like running a marathon, you need understand and consider the course of action that it will take to complete the race.  One part of creating a new custom object that should never be overlooked is the data analysis of the data that will be stored in the object.  Data can be tricky but let CRM Manager be there to guide you in a direction that best fits your needs.

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