Steve Robertson
posted by Steve Robertson on May 15, 2013
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How Pick Lists Can Play An Important Role In CRM Data Integrity

pick-lists-4Pick lists provide a very useful way to standardise data entry thereby ensuring CRM data integrity. For example, if you ask a group of people to type “United Kingdom” into Notepad (i.e. without spell check and auto complete) you would get a wide variety of entries.

In theory, there is only one correct answer:

United Kingdom

But in reality you will get also get some spelling variations, such as:

Uuited Kingdom, Untied Kingdom, United Kingdm, Unied Kingdom, United Kingsom, Uunited Kingdom, United Kindgom, United Kindom, United Kingdom, United Kin, United Kingom, United Kindgdom, United Lingdom, Unitedkingdom, United Kingdoom, Unitied Kingdom, United Kingdoms, Inited Kingdom, United Kngdom, United Kigdom and United Kingdon

Give the user a list of countries to pick from and that will mean the user can select the correct entry without having to spell the item; this will make your data cleaner and easier to search. I wouldn’t want to enter all the different entries as conditions in a group to ensure that I retrieved all contacts in the United Kingdom.

In Saleslogix you can add new pick lists and maintain existing ones using the Administrator, Architect, the Network Client and the Web Client. Pick lists can be maintained as they are not set in stone. If the item does not exist in the pick list a request/justification should be sent to the Saleslogix Administrator to add the item so that it is available for everyone.

What powers do I have with a pick list?

A pick list can have a number of attributes assigned to it:

  • Required Entry: The user must select an entry from the pick list.
  • Allow multiple selections: The user can select more than one item form a pick list.
  • Text must match a list item: The value typed by the user must match an item in the pick list.
  • Sorted Alphabetically: The user is shown the list alphabetically rather than by the pick list order.
  • Users cannot edit items: The user cannot add their own items or change existing pick list items. Please note that this attribute only applies to the Network Client.
  • Default: This sets one of the pick list items as the default value for the pick list.

Pick list Gotchas

  • Required Entry: The user must select an item from the list. What happens if the user does not know the value to select? A reasonable way to overcome this is to have a valid pick list entry of “Unknown”; this means a group can be easily created for data cleaning and the correct data entered when it is known.
  • Allow multiple selections: The pick list text field can be up to 64 characters; you therefore need to make sure that the field that the data is going to be stored in is big enough.

When multiple items are selected the items produce a comma separated list; this means you should not have pick list items in the list that contain commas. The previously selected values from the pick list are lost if the items contain commas. In the example below the selections change as “Banking, Finance and Insurance” contains a comma:

pick-lists-1pick-lists-2

 

 

For example, “Banking, Finance and Insurance” would need to be split into 3 to cover all 3 bases “Banking”, “Finance” and “Insurance”. The 3 items instead of 1 means that all the combinations can be used:

“Banking”

“Finance”

“Insurance”

“Banking”, “Finance”

“Banking”, “Insurance”

“Finance”, “Insurance”

“Banking”, “Finance” and “Insurance”

You could split “Banking” and “Finance and Insurance” into 2 items, but that doesn’t mean “Finance” and “Insurance” don’t already exist as individual items in your list.

When searching you need to use “contains”; beware if you have items like “Finance and Insurance”, “Finance” and “Finance and Property”. When you do a search for contains “Finance” it will return all 3 possible instances.

  • Text must match a list item: If this is not set the user can edit the text. However, this defeats the whole objective of a pick list. The user is editing the text that is saved to the database
  • Users cannot edit items: If this is not set, the user can add their own pick list items. However, this defeats the whole objective of a pick list. If an item is not available in a pick list the Saleslogix Administrator should be notified and the item added for everyone if it is justified.
  • Bundling a pick list: If you bundle a pick list from one database to another (e.g. from the Test system to the Live system) the pick list attributes are not enforced. You would need to ensure that the 2 systems have the correct attributes set.
  • Differences between the Web and Network client: The Web and Network client pick list controls behave differently. In the Network client the pick list takes its attributes directly from the pick list attributes. In the Web client the pick list control takes its settings from the control itself or from the pick list attributes.

Why the difference in the web?

At the dawn of the Saleslogix Web Pick list control you were only able to get the pick list items and not the pick list attributes. The pick list control in the web has a set of behaviour properties which mimicked the pick list attributes and had to be set per pick list control:

  • Allow Multiple Selections: equivalent of “Allow multiple selections”
  • Can Edit Text: similar to “Users cannot edit items”
  • Item Must Exist: equivalent of “Text must match a list item”
  • Required: equivalent of “Required Entry”
  • Sort: equivalent of “Sorted Alphabetically”

This meant if you used the same pick list over multiple forms you had to set each pick list control with the corresponding properties to mimic the pick list attributes.

Times have moved on and the Saleslogix Web Pick List (not the control) can apply the pick list attributes to the Web pick list control! This is done by logging into the web client as the Saleslogix Administrator user and using the “Administration” navigation group that has the “Pick Lists” navigation button.

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If the checkbox for “Apply options to Web pick list” is not checked for the pick list the behaviour properties defined for the pick list control are used.

Summary

Pick lists are a great method of providing consistent data entry which then enables easier database searching and a cleaner CRM database in general. If an item does not exist in a pick list, submit a request to your Saleslogix Administrator to add it.

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