by Mina Tsankova, Salesforce Technician | Oct 24, 2023
What is Data Integrity?
Data integrity refers to trustworthy, accurate, uncorrupted, and consistent data, enabling organizations to make fast and confident decisions. Data integrity ensures that data collected and stored within your database is recorded as intended and kept up to date throughout its entire lifecycle.
Importance of Data Integrity in Salesforce
Protecting the validity and data accuracy increases your Salesforce database’s overall stability and performance while improving reusability and maintainability. You will leverage data for decision-making needs and consider other areas like automation or external integrations as an area of potential impact of less than ideal data validity.
Maintaining data integrity in Salesforce ensures its recoverability and searchability, traceability (to origin), and connectivity. It will engender trust amongst all levels of Salesforce users and positively impact long-term user adoption of Salesforce.
In this article, you’ll learn the role of data in Salesforce, what challenges might occur in maintaining data integrity, and how to maintain data integrity in Salesforce.
Understanding Data Integrity in Salesforce
Salesforce is a customer relationship management (CRM) software focused on sales, customer service, marketing automation, e-commerce, analytics, application development, and more. The cloud-based software is designed to help businesses connect to customers, increase leads, and close deals; each function depends on reliable data to do so.
The Role of Data in Salesforce
Data management is central to any customer’s success with Salesforce. Ensuring you get valuable data can help your team achieve your goals and uncover what’s next for your business. A clear data strategy helps keep your organization on track. It’s a great way to align your team on how data will be collected, reviewed, and used to drive your business goals.
Key Elements of Data Integrity are:
• Data Completeness: A data record, such as a Product record, must be complete to satisfy the needs of all its consumers. For example, the Sales Team needs to know whether the Product is available and all attributes to create a Quote, while the Price Management Team wants to manage the right price and store it in the right Price Book. Gaps in the attribute data can impair an organization’s ability to manage the Product.
• Data Accuracy: Wrong or misleading data doesn’t help anybody. Inaccuracy can be caused by manual input errors, mishandled conflicting data between external sources, and ineffective IT discovery tools that miss or double-count a record.
• Data Consistency: This is one of the more complex data issues to resolve related to the integrity of the data. If you only have a single source of data, then it is likely to be consistent (although potentially consistently wrong). To truly verify the data, it must be validated against multiple sources. Deciding which source is the most accurate is complicated, and establishing integration governance precedence rules can be challenging without the right tool.
• Data Safety: Sensitive Data must be maintained securely and can only be accessed and used by authorized applications or individuals. Further, safe data can’t readily be exploited with malicious intent.
• Data Reliability: Reliable data is dependable and can be trusted to be accurate and consistent. It should be obtained from trustworthy sources and maintained using robust data management practices. Data reliability will allow your business to make effective data-driven decisions and overall increase the trustworthiness of Salesforce.
Common Data Integrity Challenges in Salesforce
Your company’s growth and business decisions are linked to the quality of your Salesforce data. There’s little chance of successful growth without following integrity processes to manage all types of data integrity.
Data Entry Errors
Data Entry Errors are a common data integrity challenge in Salesforce. A data entry error occurs in the dialog when you enter an invalid value or do not enter a value for a required field. Data entry errors create unreliable reports, leading to missed opportunities, overlooked dates, canceled deals, and other potentially costly oversights. Data entry errors are considered human error and are a significant compliance risk. Unless your organization has established a data retention plan, once a piece of data is changed or overridden, it is lost. Establishing a base as simple as the field audit trail is a step in the right direction.
Duplicate data in your database is unavoidable – between list imports, employees entering data, and all the automated inbound sources, there will inevitably be duplicate records.
It is critical to have a plan to evaluate and correct these duplicates regularly. Maintaining clean, accurate data is one of the most important aspects of data integrity. It builds the trust of your sales team and helps you work toward complying with various data protection and privacy regulations.
Salesforce provides tools for managing duplicates one at a time and across your org and tracking your progress in eliminating duplicates.
Incomplete or Inaccurate Data
Inaccurate or incomplete data can lead to stalled productivity. Your company’s data might have missing, incomplete, or stale records. According to Salesforce, the average company loses 12% of its revenue due to inaccurate data, and 40% of all business initiatives fail to achieve their targeted benefits because of poor-quality data or data corruption.
Security and Access Control Issues
Data security involves authentication, authorization, encryption, backup or other data protection, and access logging.
As a part of your business processes, you should establish business rules that strictly define who in your Salesforce org has the data access to modify or delete data. Restricting access to data based on user permissions and authentication mechanisms is a great way to prevent unauthorized access, modifications, or deletions.
Consistency through integration points
Salesforce is a relational database, and this means for its end users is that it maintains relationships within and between data points to create a complete story. Often, a part of that story begins outside of Salesforce. An example is the relationship between an Opportunity Record and the Account (business) that Opportunity is for.
Organizations rely on third-party integrations to create data within Salesforce from an external source and connect these data points. If you have multiple external integrations creating datasets within Salesforce, it’s safe to assume that a set of data accuracy challenges is behind each door. Below are similar challenges to those listed above, yet equally important and specifically related to external integrations.
• Duplicate Data – Ensure that all integration points leverage the same primary keys to identify existing data and accurately decide when to create new records. Despite having tight duplicate rules internally, an external tool working against your users and creating duplicates due to poor integration will create unintentional manual work.
• Consistent Datasets – Define data governance rules so that all integration points are mapping to the same fields and objects and maintaining the logical integrity of what the data will be used for within the Salesforce database. For example, if multiple sources integrate Lead data into Salesforce, ensure that all sources integrate the required data points within the same fields.
• Referential Integrity – Ensure that all integration points can correctly create or identify relational records. For example, if external sources are mapping Opportunity records generated through Sales Loft into Salesforce, how does this tool correctly identify which Account within Salesforce that Opportunity belongs to? This will create the most chaos within a database; unraveling relationships between records is oftentimes extremely manual and time-consuming.
• Transfer Errors – Below, we have listed simple approaches to begin creating governance within your Salesforce database; however, when these are enforced, you may face transfer errors from your integration points. For example, if you now require a Lead Source for any Opportunities over $50,000 and your integration point also enforces that through its data collection, that integration will experience a transfer error, again creating unintentional manual work.
Be proactive when choosing sources or third-party tools that integrate with your Salesforce database. Due diligence in choosing integration points with the abovementioned requirements and thinking through all data scenarios will protect your data quality in the long run.
Stay tuned for simple approaches, like data validation rules, to establish data integrity within your Salesforce database and real-world examples of how The CRM Firm has assisted businesses in establishing governance, consistent business data processes, and trustworthiness within Salesforce.
Contact us today if you are experiencing challenges related to your Salesforce database’s data integrity, and ensure that every piece of data contributes to your business’s success!