Salesforce Admin Hack: Temp Fields

I ❤ temp fields! Temp fields are simple text fields, used mainly by administrators (though I have given access to superusers on a few occasions), to quickly and temporarily tag records with dummy text so you can easily locate those records later in a Salesforce report, an Apsona filter, in Demand Tools‘ Single Table Dedupe, the Apex Data Loader, or anywhere else where you can filter a Salesforce field. Here are a few ways temp fields can be useful and make you an even more #AwesomeAdmin.

To test out the examples below, start by creating your temp field. The examples below are on the Contact object but you can create a temp field in any object where it might be useful. Call it whatever you like as long as you know where to find it (“Temp Field,” “Temp Field 1” if you have more than one, etc.). Make it a simple text field, 50ish character count. Make sure that you make the field read-only for all users aside from those who should be updating these fields.

Tag a Group of Records for Easier Reporting

Let’s say a user has given you an Excel spreadsheet with a list of Salesforce IDs, or email addresses, or phone numbers, or names. Maybe the spreadsheet has IDs, maybe it doesn’t. The user wants to be able to run a Salesforce report on these people: their donation history, campaigns they are a part of, etc. The problem is, no Salesforce report filters will be able to match this list exactly because it was generated by the user, or because they took an old Salesforce report and deleted some contacts and added some new ones.

If you have the IDs: make sure the temp field you created is available in Apsona by clearing your cache after adding the field. Next, add a new column to your spreadsheet with the name of your temp field as the header. Choose any value for the field as long as it’s the same for every record. My personal best practice is to insert the date into the end of the field value so if I stumble on it later, I can remember when I used it, which will (hopefully) remind me why I used it and whether it can be cleared or overwritten. Your spreadsheet will look something this this:

TempTest0719

Copy and paste into Apsona like you are doing a record update – all you are doing is updating this one field. Afterwards, add Temp Field = TempTest0719 (or whatever your value is) as a filter in any Contacts report, and send to your user. Once you are done, clear the temp field or just leave it alone until you need to make your next update – with your next update, you’ll simply overwrite what’s already there. (that’s when having a date in the value comes in handy). See below regarding clearing the field.

If you don’t have the IDs: don’t forget that in Apsona, you can map on more than just Record ID: you can also use email, name, name in combination with address, and more. You can follow the same process as above with what you have, or if you have a mix of those different things, run each one through Apsona separately and use the backup file, which contains IDs, to do your final upload.

Merge records with Demand Tools

If you have used Demand Tools’ Single Table Dedupe function, you know it can be confusing and slightly terrifying (am I sure I want to merge all of these records with no backup??? No, not when you say it so ominously!). The UI is not the best; if you’ve pulled in the wrong fields to review, you have to keep adding them afterwards; it’s difficult to look at all the data you need to look at at once to make an informed decision about whether you are merging the right records or not; you can’t find the scenario you were working on last week, etc. Or maybe you already have created a complex Salesforce report, exported it to Excel, and don’t feel like going through the steps of carefully re-creating all of the conditions in Single Table Dedupe’s UI. For whatever the reason, I have often found it easier to review this data in a Salesforce report, either within the Salesforce UI or exported to Excel, where you can sort and filter. My favorite way to safely merge records using Single Table Dedupe is with a temp field. Once I have finalized my list of records that I want to merge, I’ll do similar to what you see in the example above, but I don’t put the exact same value in the temp field. Let’s say I’m merging contacts: my temp field upload might look something like this:

TempTestMergeRecords0719

My temp field value starts with Merge0719 but has the last name of the contact appended. Once I am in Single Table Dedupe, I can simple add a condition in step 1: Temp Field starts with Merge0719:

SingleTableDedupeFilter

Since you have already done your work in Salesforce or Excel to determine which records you want to merge, your only mapping condition in Step 2 (selecting fields to match) will be your temp field:

SingleTableDedupeMap

On the next screen, your records will display grouped accordingly. From here, determine your master rule to tell the system how to decide which record should be the master, test one to start and verify that the merge went as expected, and then do the rest. Clear your temp field from the master record after you’re finished.

Clearing a Temp Field

My best practice is to clear a temp field after I’ve finished using it to avoid future confusion. Create an Apsona filter Temp Field = your value, and update all records in the filter to Temp Field = blank. You’re finished!

There are countless use cases for temp fields, especially with Apsona and Demand Tools at your fingertips. Apsona, in particular, makes updating records such a breeze that I use temp fields multiple times a week. Do you use them? If so, please share your use cases!

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2 thoughts on “Salesforce Admin Hack: Temp Fields

    • I have to be honest, my experience with Data Loader is so minimal because I have been so spoiled by Demand Tools and Apsona. What is load_batch_id? Is that an ID field on every record?

      Like

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