Merging of Duplicates Detected - Funny Name, Great Functionality

The detection of duplicates may sound like a boring topic to some but I have seen it crush an implementation and user adoption. CRM 2011 has two tools that can help you manage  duplicates, both the finding of them and the merging of them once found.

I am feeling a bit literary just now so let me describe what happens thusly. Duplicate detection can be configured to discover the duplicates and then the merge functionality can weave the duplicates together leaving behind an active record with relevant data and an inactive record with the remnants.

So part one of the story is setting up the duplicate detection rules. Using a tool similar to advanced find the duplicate detection rule can be configured to compare the same entities or different entities, e.g accounts to accounts or accounts to contacts, to name a few. Then the fields that are to be compared are chosen, first so many letters, last so many letters or exact match. You choose the number of letters that are used in the comparison. And multiple rules can be set up or a couple of items can be configured in each rule. One we are using is compare account to account; within those compare the first 5 letters of the account name. Another rule checks to see if the websites are an exact match. 

Once the rules are in place, go to the entity that you want to check, begin the duplicate detection process using the big button in the tool bar and it runs in the back ground. You can then review the results and merge as needed. The duplicate detection also works when adding records, thought not until the record is saved. When saving the record, if there is a duplicate found based on the duplicate detection rules in place, CRM will give to the option of canceling the record or continuing to save it.

There are only a few duplicate detection settings regarding when it will be used. My favorite  allows you to toggle to use or not to use duplicate detection during data import. It's a great option especially when doing the initial import; I speak from experience!

And the merge functionality is available if duplicates are found in a duplicate detection job or if you run across them during your everyday activities. Just choose the two records to be merged, click the Merge button and the fields from the two records are shown side by side. You can then choose individual fields or sections that you want in the final record. When you click OK to merge the records, the record chosen as the master will inherit all child records, like contacts, activities, cases, and opportunities from the record to be made inactive. The record that was the duplicate will be deactivated. Having had to manually merge records in other CRM systems, I am a big fan of the merging. 

So the duplicate detection and merge functionality of CRM 2011 may not be as glamorous as the dashboards or goals in CRM 2011 but it is essential to data management.  No longer will the pestilence of duplicate records plague the CRM world. For now there is a cure, merging of duplicates detected… not the best name for a cure but what is in a name? I just know it works!

by Paige L. Cassada, Intelligent Technologies, Inc. a Southeast Microsoft partner

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