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I started my career at Salesforce as a Success Manager, where I spent my days working directly with customers, helping them boost adoption, optimize their implementations, and ultimately get the most value out of their investment in Salesforce. And when it comes to getting value, nothing is better than getting something helpful for free, which is why I always loved talking to my customers about the AppExchange. Out of the 2,600+ apps on the AppExchange, 44% are available free of charge, and many are reasonably priced and deliver exceptional value.

In this five-part blog series, we’ll highlight Apps for Admins as we dig into some of the key challenges Admins face and the AppExchange apps, mostly free (and a few paid), that have made some of my customers more successful.

Houston, We Have a Problem … A Data Problem

Picture this: You’re at your desk working through your carefully prioritized backlog of requests when the phone rings. It’s your Sales Ops Director and she says, “We need to stop allowing everyone to create new leads. Can you make it so only managers can create leads?”

As an Admin, you know the answer is yes, and you could just update a few profiles and return to your backlog. But you also know that your role is not just some order taker, but a trusted Salesforce advisor to your company. You’re the Salesforce expert!

And that’s why it’s so important to ask questions, because sometimes a business user will come to you with a solution rather than articulating *why* she needs it—and that *why* is key! Once you know the why, you can use your creativity and expertise to come up with the best solution, which may or may not be the one originally requested. (See this podcast featuring Kevin Richardson and this blog from MVP Brent Downey for more on this topic.)

In this example, asking questions leads us to the real problem: The sales team has found a number of duplicates in Salesforce and it’s hurting their productivity. Now you can really dig in with additional questions, like:

  • What makes a duplicate a duplicate?
  • Are you using any Web-to-lead forms or doing data imports?
  • Do you want your users to be alerted to potential duplicates at the point of entry? If yes, do your users also use mobile?
  • Are you planning to merge records? If yes, what fields will you use to determine a match?
  • Do you want your users to be able to merge duplicates?
  • Which objects are affected? Leads, Contacts, Cases, and/or other objects?
  • Do we need to clean up existing data?
  • Do we need to back up our data?
  • Is there any budget available to solve this issue?

The great news is, for every answer to these questions, there are fantastic apps on the AppExchange to help Admins, including duplicate alerting and blocking, data cleanup, imports, and integration, plus there are free and paid options for each scenario. Read on to discover some of your options.

Block It

When you have a leak, it’s important to start with the source. The same is true with duplicates. Explore these apps to stop the flood by blocking duplicates right at the point of entry.

Are duplicates being created directly by users? If yes, are any of them being created via Salesforce1? If you’re looking to stop users from creating duplicate records, you’ll want to check out these free options:

  • Salesforce Duplicate Management Functionality: Not an app, but native functionality, currently scheduled for the Spring ’15 release. This will allow you to block leads at the point of entry. Bonus: It also works with Salesforce1!
  • DupeCatcher: Empower your users to identify, block, and de-dupe records at the point of entry. This free app works for Leads, Accounts (business and person), and Contacts, but does not have Salesforce1 functionality as of yet.

Are duplicates coming in from Web-to-Lead or Imports? If yes, you’re probably going to need a paid app. Check out these options; note that both also feature functionality for users at the point of entry:

  • DupeBlocker: Block duplicates coming in through Web-to-Lead. This paid app also features functionality to block duplicates at the point of entry.
  • RingLead Duplicate Solutions: RingLead offers solutions for Web-to-Lead and list imports, as well as data cleansing, diagnostics, and point of entry. Check out the listing for a complete overview of the options available. The diagnostic app is free, but the rest are paid.

Merge It and Clean It

If it’s determined that users should be able to merge their own Accounts, Contacts, and Leads, there is native functionality available in Salesforce, and you can simply enable those permissions. If you need to merge en masse, there are free and paid options available:

  • Duplicate Check for Salesforce: This free app allows you to run a batch process to clean up your org, de-dupe records at the point of entry, or take advantage of advanced fuzzy matching to find duplicates with different spelling. There are limits on the amount of records available for free; check the AppExchange listing for more details. Note: it does not have Salesforce1 functionality as of yet.
  • DemandTools by CRM Fusion: De-duplication, mass loading, and robust data cleansing features. Paid app.
  • Cloudingo: Cleanse import files, identify duplicate records, and merge and convert records automatically or manually. Paid app.
  • Case Merge Premium: Specifically for the Cases object, this paid app allows you to merge cases and their related records.
  • RingLead Data Cleanse: Identify duplicate records, and merge records automatically or manually, up to 1,000 records at a time. Paid app.

Load It Up

There are a number of free data loading tools available on the AppExchange, including Jitterbit Cloud Data Loader, Informatica Cloud Data Loader, and dataloader.io Data Loader for Salesforce. Salesforce also offers a native Data Import Wizard for importing up to 50,000 records. Call me old-fashioned, but I still use the standard Data Loader you can download from Setup at Data Management | Data Loader.

Back It Up

Now that you’re blocking, merging, and cleansing, it’s probably a good time to think about your overall data strategy and decide if you need regular data backups. Salesforce offers a free export service, either on demand or scheduled. I also think it’s a good practice to download the Setup Audit Trail twice a year, so you can retain your setup history.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution for backing up your data, check out Backupify. With this paid app, you can back up data and metadata, from production and sandbox environments, and the data is all searchable and accessible via a self-service portal.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for free functionality to prevent duplicates at the point of entry or a robust paid solution for overall data management, there’s an app for you to explore. So ask questions, get those requirements, and check out what the AppExchange has to offer.