Real World Algebra: Data Management

Order of operations and solving for x make Salesforce CRM data load simple

Algebra is most peoples first math with letters and is all about about solving for x.


x=16 here, easy enough. When problems become more complex or include multiple variables, though, the amount your known values have to shuffle increases and the amount of brain power needed also increases.

While standing up a fresh instance of Salesforce that needed data from 2 legacy CRMs, info from end-user technology, and also required data from finance department sources the point really hit home. This is a perfect example of where you put algebra fundamentals to use.

Let me paint the picture. The goal of standing up a fresh Salesforce org with clean data means no duplicate records, contacts neatly matched to their accounts, customer data in its place, etc. Easier said than done unless the source data is perfect and it NEVER is.

Further complicating the project was the requirement to migrate audit fields like Created Date from the legacy CRMs. For added difficulty, the database structure of these CRMs was flat. No separate database tables for Contact, Account, or otherwise.

Salesforce users know that Objects, the Salesforce equivalent of database tables, are what drive its functionality. These are Leads, Contacts, Accounts, Opportunities, etc.

Without an algebraic lens to look through it would take significant trial and error to arrive at the solution for this implementation:

  • Import Customer Account/Contact data first
  • Import Prospect Account data next
    • So that any prospects who were not labeled a customer could be flagged with duplicate rules and not created
  • Import Prospect Contacts and match to their Accounts

Even with a clearly defined plan there are plenty of data integrity hurdles to overcome like ensuring pick list options match at import. My favorite example is that there really is a difference between a short and long hyphen!

To bring the point home, all of the to-be-imported data and corresponding database tables represents your variables. To solve the problem an exact order of operations and solid “if – then” reasoning must be followed and applied.

When solved properly, problems like this yield a neat and tidy solution. In this case, a clean Salesforce database.

Written by Erik Sunset

Written by Erik Sunset

Erik is the owner and operator of Sunset Marketing Works. Click to learn more about the author.

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