Understanding Identifiers on Salesforce objects

Understanding identifiers on your source and destination objects is one of the most important decisions when creating a new sync in Census. Salesforce in particular makes the process very flexible, but all the options can also get confusing. This article will guide you through the process of creating and selecting identifiers on your Salesforce objects.

Default identifiers on Salesforce objects

By default, every Salesforce object has an ID field. This ID is automatically generated and assigned whenever a new record is created, and can't be changed. This means the ID is completely under Salesforce's control. Census (nor anyone else really!) can set or update that ID. 

Census can use the Salesforce ID field for Update Only syncs, but it cannot be used for Update or Create, or Create Only syncs.

Default Salesforce objects may have other fields available as identifiers for syncs. For example, the Contact object has an Email field that can be used as an identifier as well. Note: The values in the Salesforce Email field are not required to be unique, which means Census may have trouble identifying which Salesforce record to update if two records have the same email. For this reason, we recommend you try to use an Unique External Identifier field whenever possible.

Creating new External Identifier fields

This is the most reliable choice for identifiers on Salesforce objects, particularly for an Update or Create sync. This will ensure no records with duplicate IDs can be created. If you've already got a field like this, you can skip over the setup instructions, but take a look at the advice on reusing existing external ID fields below.

Before you start: You're going to need Salesforce admin permissions to edit your Salesforce objects. If you don't have that permissions, ask your Salesforce admin.

Here's how to add a new External ID to your Salesforce Object:

  1. In Salesforce, go to Setup, open the Object Manager, and click on the Salesforce object you want to sync to.
  2. Select Fields & Relationships and press the New button in the top right.
  3. Select the type of field. You'll want to stick to the Text, Email, or Number types as most others cannot be made into an External ID in the next step. 
  4. Define your new ID field. The important part is that you check External ID AND Unique. You can choose between case sensitive and case insensitive. 
    • Unique is strongly recommended. Without it, two records may have the same identifier value and Census can't ensure we're updating the correct record.
    • Case insensitive is a safer choice if you're ever going to have humans inputing values (such as an email address), but could in rare cases introduce a problems with computer generated identifiers.

  5. Continue through the field creation process and hit Save.

  6. The field should now appear as an option in Census when creating a new sync. You may need to hit the Refresh button next to the menu if we haven't updated metadata since you created the new field.

Extra steps for syncing to Multi-destination Objects

If you're planning to create a Multi-destination sync to both Lead & Contact or Lead & Account, you'll need to do two more steps.

  1. First, make sure you've created the same External ID on both the Lead and the Contact or Account.
  2. Then, return to Lead in the Object Manager. Once again in Fields & Relationships and press the Map Lead Fields button in the top right. This UI will let you associate fields across a converted Lead. Create a mapping between your two external IDs and you're done!

Reusing existing External Identifier fields

If your object already has an identifier field, you're in great shape! One thing to double check before using it for a sync is to make sure all the Salesforce records that should have an ID in that field actually do. If you've got an external ID field created but very few of the records that have an ID actually do, you'll want to make sure you fill that field first before creating a sync, otherwise Census won't know those records exist and will end up creating duplicates.

If this sounds like your situation, you have a couple options. You may choose to do all of them!

  • Manually go through your Salesforce records and fill in the missing ID values by hand.
  • Create a separate ID population sync in Census. This sync would be Update Only and typically requires creating a Census model that uses SQL to do some fuzzy matching on other properties such as the name of Salesforce records to fill the ID field. 
  • Create your new sync anyway and let it create duplicates in Salesforce. Then use Salesforce's deduplication workflow to merge the duplicated objects together, making sure to keep the new ID value.