What are Salesforce Record Types

Dave Sribnik |
 Salesforce |
 Dec 23, 2020

On the Record: Some Hype About Salesforce Record Types

When taking the power and efficiency of the world’s leading CRM platform and customizing it to the specific needs and unique characteristics of your business, one of the most powerful features available to you is the ability to create multiple Salesforce Record Types on any Object within the system. But, with this power comes great responsibility, or, at least, the potential to overcomplicate and overburden your Salesforce instance. So, let’s take a look at why Record Types are so useful and how to avoid the pitfall of overusing them.

What are Salesforce Record Types?

Record Types are a way to tailor the user’s experience to and limit their data-driven interactions based on, the “type” of record selected within an Object. By selecting a particular Record Type, the user can be offered a type-specific Page Layout, type-specific picklist values, and/or even a type-specific Business Process. Let’s dive deeper into these raisons d’etre for Record Types.

Record Type-specific Page Layouts

Understanding that only one Page Layout can be assigned per Profile per Object per Record Type, if no additional Record Types were used, regardless of how different records could be, the same user would have to view them in an identical fashion. By creating multiple Record Types for that Object, the user can view an entirely unique record page specific to the type of record they are viewing.

Let’s create a simple and obvious example to help explain this. Picture an organization that sells both B2B and B2C. The products could be different. The employees responsible for each channel could be different. The sales process could be different. The marketing efforts could be different. So on and so on.

Now, let’s picture a B2B-focused employee signs in to their Salesforce instance. The system can be programmed to identify this user as a B2B user based on their Profile, and automatically show them the B2B-specific Page Layout for the Opportunity page. All B2C-specific fields and sections will be hidden from this user. Only pertinent and valuable information needs to be shown via this Page Layout, increasing user efficiency as well as data accuracy. If their manager, the Vice President of Sales, manages both B2B and B2C sales, both Record Types can be assigned to their user, and they’d have the ability to view all sales, regardless of with which division the records are associated. This enables a full picture of the sales organization, while still allowing for segmented and filtered data views and reporting.

Record Type-specific Picklist Values

Similar to how record-specific Page Layouts work, Record Types can drive the picklist values within a field, as well. This is a useful benefit because only one field is needed and can be utilized across any and all Record Types, while still limiting the options for selection within that field based on the record’s Record Type. This is a huge boom for reporting purposes, as all values, regardless of Record Type, are populated by a single field and can be tracked, filtered, and reported in a single table column or graph section.

Sticking with our example company and our example employee, let’s assume that Leads come from different potential sources based on whether they are B2B or B2C Leads. B2B Leads may originate from conferences, trade shows, industry publications, etc., while B2C Leads may be sourced from email campaigns, radio advertisements, etc. Again, based on the user’s Profile, a B2B salesperson can automatically be brought to their division’s Leads Record Type’s Page Layout. On that Page Layout, the Lead Source picklist field would only show the user options that are specific to B2B marketing efforts. Concurrently, maybe the B2B division’s Marketing Director wants to review which Lead Sources are the most productive, they can view a report specific to only B2B Lead Sources. At the same time, however, the corporate executives can view the metrics across the entire marketing department’s efforts in one single report, due to the fact that B2C Lead Sources are also selected from the same field’s picklist. There is no need to create and view multiple reports to see the full organization’s Lead Source picture.

Record Type-specific Business Processes

Before we get down to record-type business, let’s define what a “Business Process” is in Salesforce terminology. In Salesforce, a Business Process refers to the different steps or stages various processes follow. These include Sales processes, Lead processes, and Support processes. In the customer service world, think of the Support process as being the different statuses a Case can follow, for example: Open à Case Accepted à Case Assigned à Case in Progress à Case Closed.

So, how do Salesforce Record Types tie into Business Processes? Well, in Salesforce, one can develop multiple Business Processes for various Objects, such as Sales processes on the Opportunities Object, Lead processes on the Leads Object, and Support processes on the Cases Object. These specific paths can then be assigned to specific Record Types. What this achieves is the ability for various types of records to follow pre-determined and type-specific paths, increasing efficiency and reducing variability in those processes.

Returning to our example, our B2B-focused salesperson would, in theory, follow a different Sales process than a B2C-focused salesperson would. Let’s say that B2B sales include multiple conversations, in-person presentations, the drafting of quotes, an approval process, the signing of contracts, etc., while the B2C sales process in this example could potentially be closed on the first phone call. Somehow, this very different Business Process needs to be tracked within the system, and the salesperson would need to stay abreast of at which step the process is, at all times. As above, the B2B salesperson’s Profile denotes that they will automatically be working with B2B Business Processes, therefore Salesforce will assign them the B2B Sales process to follow. The Opportunity Stages will B2B-centric, as will any related sales activities, reminders, automation, and so on.

When Are Record Types Superfluous?

As we’ve seen here, utilizing Record Types can be an extremely powerful and useful way to get more out of your Salesforce instance, increase user efficiency, masterfully control data and simplify the user experience. But it also isn’t the solution in every situation. Due to the inherent logicality of using Record Types, they are often over-utilized, which can, in turn, complicate the data architecture, slow down the system and often not deliver the desired results.

The first rule of thumb when considering if Record Types are right for you is to ask yourself if your various Profiles need to access more than one Page Layout on the same Object. If the answer is “no”, in that one Page Layout will suffice, you don’t need multiple Record Types. Next, do your various Profiles need to see a subset of values from a picklist field? If that answer is also “no”, you still don’t need multiple Record Types. Lastly, do you require different Business Processes on the same Object? Again, if your answer to that question is also “no”, multiple Record Types are not necessary. You’re most likely better off utilizing Page Layouts to meet your needs.

Assuming that one Page Layout per Profile per Object is sufficient for your needs, Page Layouts can be utilized to determine which data is displayed to the users on a record page, and how it’s displayed on the page. If the variance can be solved via fields, buttons, related lists, field-level security, and other tools such as Visualforce, there’s no reason to create additional Record Types.

Lastly, Record Types are not a viable access control mechanism. As Record Types are assigned to Profiles, and Profiles do not govern ‘Read’ access, you could end up with users who can’t ‘Create’ or ‘Edit’ a particular Record Type, but can still ‘Read’ records of that Record Type. If your goal is to manage access to an Object, you’re better off fine-tuning your Object Permissions via Permission Sets.

Now that you hopefully have a better grasp of what Salesforce Record Types are, how they are beneficial to your Salesforce instance, and when they are overkill, you will begin to think of the world in terms of Record Types. Are these two <blank>s similar? How similar? What type of people utilize <blank>? What about <blank>? Is there overlap? Do the <blank>s differ in their execution? Would you build multiple Record Types for the <blank>s? Or could a combination of Page Layouts and Permission Sets suffice? Before you know it, you’ll be improving the efficiency of your Salesforce org, increasing the power of the data within it, and amplifying user satisfaction.

Dave Sribnik

Dave Sribnik

Senior Business Systems Analyst

Dave, one of our talented Senior Business Architects, has over two decades of strategic planning and strategy work. With experience utilizing the system as an employee, as a consultant, as an administrator, and as an end-user, he has been offering a unique “big-picture”, strategic outlook to Salesforce instances for more than 10 years.

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