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  • Writer's pictureBecka Dente

Have a Bad Field-ing

Apparently what I really have is a bad pun problem (see – the title of this post). But what I also have is a dislike for some of the field types in Salesforce. 

checks

There is one field type that I hate above all other. And secretly, I think the more disdain I have for the field, the more requests I get from people to use it. What field is it? The checkbox. Now, I should clarify because the idea of a binary data point is actually a great one, and I am in full support of it. But the problem with the checkbox is the assumption of data. Too often people want to use checkboxes in situation where you shouldn’t because of the implications of an unchecked box.

Let me give some examples. A No Longer At Company checkbox on a contact is a great use of a checkbox. By default, when created a contact on an account, you assume they are an employee of that company, so the unchecked state makes sense. It is only when a contact leaves the organization that you would check this box and remove them from communications or counts of contacts.

In contrast, a Decision Maker checkbox is a terrible idea. You might be thinking “But wait, that’s a piece of data I really want to know!,” and I agree with you. But here’s the problem – how do you know when the answer is no? Image that your outside sales rep talked to the contact & that contact let them know they aren’t the decision maker, but they will be involved in the sales process. That’s a key bit of information, but if all you have is a checkbox, there’s no where to put it.

I propose to you, an alternative solution: the yes-no picklist. In situations where I don’t want to imply a value, I use a simple picklist with only two potential choices: yes and no. You might be thinking that sounds like the exact same thing, but more work to create, but you’d be wrong. Because what the yes-no picklist also offers is a null value. You would create this field with a default value of blank. It eliminates the assumption of no (or unchecked) and provides you only with values that have been entered.

What’s your take on checkboxes? Are you a heavy user, or do you avoid them as much as possible? Have you found a different way to work around the limitations of binary data?

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