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You can’t talk about Salesforce fundamentals without talking about Salesforce objects. They make up the backbone of Salesforce and determine what users see when they’re in the system and how they use it. Here’s a primer on what Salesforce objects are, why they’re important, and how to manage your custom objects wisely.  

What are Salesforce objects?

Salesforce objects provide the structure for storing and interacting with data within the platform. The elements you use when in the platform—accounts, contacts, opportunities, etc.—are all objects. Each object is appended with fields. The four different kinds of Salesforce fields are:

  • Identity: the 15-character ID automatically generated for each record
  • System: read-only fields that provides information about the record, such as CreatedDate or LastModifiedByID
  • Name: the title that you give to any record
  • Custom: any fields  you create on the object

Records are individual entries of an object. By using record types in Salesforce, you can set different parameters for how you view and interact with records. For instance, you may want to use a certain picklist and page layout for sales support cases. You can use record types to preset the picklist values and page layout (in addition to other elements, like buttons and custom links) for sales support cases and any other record type you need.  

Many people often compare Salesforce objects to data tables, where the fields are like the columns, and the individual records are similar to the rows. Together, these elements set the basic framework for how the platform is organized. 

Salesforce comes with certain standard objects, like accounts, leads, and campaigns. But you can also set up your own custom Salesforce objects. You can create custom objects for products that you sell, for example. 

The critical role objects play in your Salesforce org 

Because objects are the foundational elements of Salesforce, managing them well is critical to using the platform effectively. On top of the standard and custom objects you can create, you can also interact with external objects in Salesforce. External objects are stored outside of your Salesforce organization, allowing you to centralize data and improve visibility among the many systems in your tech stack. 

But the flip side to this transparency and access is that things can easily go wrong. Each object plays an important role in how users interact with the platform. When managed effectively, Salesforce objects set the foundation for ease of use and scalability. As ops teams and Salesforce admins create the architecture for their Salesforce org, the decisions they make about objects will impact the entire user base.

For example, a common problem with objects is setting them up to store too much information, which ends up overwhelming users and creates tech debt that you’ll have to deal with later. As you consider each option, it’s important to determine how your objects will differ from one another and which data you really want to capture for each one.  

Best practices for managing your custom objects

Nowhere is the need for careful Salesforce object management more apparent than with custom objects. In order to keep your custom Salesforce objects from becoming unwieldy, try these tips. 

Avoid duplicates

Poor data quality costs companies an average of $12.9 million per year, and a good portion of that poor data is made up of duplicates. Despite your best efforts, duplicate records are unavoidable. Data is entered into Salesforce via manual entry and through integrations with other systems. It’s impossible to catch every potential duplicate. Salesforce’s Duplicate Management features allow you to create rules to identify potential duplicates before they’re logged into the system. 

However, there is one limitation of using Duplicate Management for custom objects. While you can run duplicate jobs to identify duplicates, you can’t compare and merge custom objects. Many ops teams prefer to use tools from the AppExchange to work around this issue. 

Run regular audits

Auditing your Salesforce instance is a key best practice for maintaining a clean system. It allows you to spot and clean clutter, ensure the right users have the right permissions, and verify that your Salesforce integrations are working as intended. Salesforce’s Field History Tracking feature lets you see all the changes made to a field over the last 18 months. And the Setup Audit Trail shows recent setup changes. 

Being able to view historical data about your Salesforce org is also useful here. Having a resource like Sonar’s Change Timelines enables you to see all of the modifications made to your Salesforce org, as well as who made them and when. 

Understand the dependencies between objects

Dependencies enable you to automate workflows and data sharing, but they can also create huge hurdles if they’re not monitored carefully. Every change you make to your tech stack can impact the dependencies of your custom objects. Without knowing it, you can easily break automations, cut users’ access to important data, or lose valuable information. 

Using a Change Intelligence solution enables you to prevent the fallout from making changes in the dark. For example, with Sonar, you can see the dependencies between objects before you make a change, allowing you to prevent surprises. Even if you’re not actively planning a change, the Blueprint feature shows you, at a glance, your standard and custom fields across key objects and their dependencies so you can get up to speed and plan quickly. 

Managing your Salesforce objects effectively can make all the difference in ensuring the ease of use, data visibility, and process efficiency of your Salesforce org. By leveraging tools that support better planning and provide intelligence about your data, as well as practices that enable you to maintain a clean database, you can prevent the complications and surprises that often come with managing a dynamic, fast-paced revenue operations organization.