Advanced Training: Admin

Managing a Clean Database

The system includes a number of ways to help you better manage the data in your system.

Anyone who's managed a database application before intuitively understands the need to keep the data clean.

Simply put, bad data causes waste—duplicate records, unnamed entries, inaccurate notes and updates, etc. cause problems for users while doing their work, and affect the accuracy of reporting for managers and admins.

Maintaining "clean" data takes effort and planning ahead, and should be done as much as possible. However, it's just as much a fact of life that over time, database quality degrades.

With that in mind, let's continue to some of the ways our system helps you manage data.

Mass Merging Record Objects

Mass merging is actually one of the functions included in the standard Mass Update tool located in any standard records tab area. This function allows you to take two (or more) duplicate records, and combine them back into one record, with all of the attached activities, notes, etc. attached.

To merge records, go to the appropriate records tab, and run a database search. Then click the Mass Update tool at the bottom left of the page. In the dropdown, select Mass Merge.

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As usual, the dialogue will ask if you want the Merge tool to look at data chosen with the mass action checkboxes, or all of the results at once. You'll also need to select the data fields on which you want to base the duplicate check. Phone number and email address are almost always effective options, as they are typically unique to a single contact (or company).

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Notice as well the Auto-select "merge to" by most recently modified date option. This can be useful if you know that your users have been working some of the data already. This auto-selects the record to keep as the "master" file if it was the most recently updated.

When ready, click Show Merge Groups.

If the system finds any records that match your merge criteria, It displays the results as a series of grouped lists, as shown.

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To merge the files, first select the object to keep as the "master," or primary file, and which files you want to merge into it. For example, in our sample image it's pretty clear that Mario and Luigi work for the same company, so maybe we want to merge them into a single Lead file. However, it's also clear that Bruce Wayne and John Wayne are separate entities, so we would want to ignore that group as part of our merge.

When finished, click the Merge button to complete the process. After completion, the system will show a short dialogue showing how many records were merged.

Duplicate Merging Tips

  • The Mass Merge tool only lets you view up to 500 leads at a time, or approximately 175-250 groupings, depending on how many duplicates exist. If you find that you have thousands and thousands of duplicates, it's likely the result of a data import gone awry, or of a bad parameter in a Web form that's posting data directly to the system. If this is the case, you may want to consider deleting and purging the recently added data, and uploading it again, using the Duplicate Check options. Then check your Web form posting parameters to make sure it's using the correct duplicate checking options.
  • Be aware that when you select the master record to keep, the main record body of information—name, address, phone, description, status, and so on—are left untouched for the master. If there are notes in the actual Description field in one of the duplicates that you don’t want to lose, you’ll need to go into the duplicate record and copy the description box text into a Note sub-object. Attached notes, files, tasks, and event sub-objects will all pass over to the master record when the merge is performed.
  • If you’re not sure which record you want to keep as the master, use the Last Modified time stamp shown in the tool to help identify which of the files was updated most recently. Be careful, however—if you recently uploaded a new list of data, the newest records may show as being the most recently modified, but the actual working data will be in the original, older record.

Deleting and Purging Data

Deleting Data uses the same paradigm as most operating systems when it comes to deleting and removing data—first data gets sent to a "trash can," or "semi-deleted" state, where it can later be re-activated or purged from the system entirely.

Anywhere in the system you see the option to "Delete" data, you're in essence sending it to the "Trash Can," though we don't call it that. Data that has been "Deleted" is actually still physically present in the system, with all of its information intact, it's just that it's ignored by the active database. Any time you run a search or a report, the system automatically ignores all data flagged as "Deleted," even though technically the record object still exists.

There's a couple of good reasons for doing this. Obviously it's just safer that way; we don't want users accidentally purging data from the system without warning. If a record accidentally gets deleted, all the user has to do is search for the record using the Advanced Search option to Show Deleted entries. When they find it, the record can be "Undeleted."

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Second, if managers want to run long-term historical reports, they may want to include data that was previously "deleted" to increase report accuracy. In this case, they could go back and undelete relevant data sets to be included in the report.

In other words, don't hesitate to delete a record, since it will be in the trash can later, but permanently purging data from the system should be done judiciously.

Like any other action, data can be mass deleted (and undeleted) using the Mass Update tool inside any record object tab.

Purging Data

To permanently purge data, you first need to run an Advanced Search with the Show Deleted parameter selected. After your search runs, use the Mass Update tool, and select Purge.

As always, the tool will give you the option to purge just the records you have checkmarked, or all search results.

If you continue, the system will give you a stern warning that purging data is permanent, and to make sure you really want to do it. If there's any hesitation, click Cancel and think about it. Otherwise, click okay, and your data will permanently be removed, never to be seen again.

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