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Dedupe Your Data with this SmartSuite Automation

Dedupe Your Data with this SmartSuite Automation

10 minutes

February 15, 2024

Maintaining a clean database is critical to the success of any business that relies on careful management of contacts, leads, or customer information. In the realm of database upkeep, we commonly encounter two philosophies: reactive and proactive approaches. In this blog post, we're diving into how SmartSuite offers an innovative solution to forever change the way you manage duplicate records proactively.

The Reactive Versus Proactive Debate

Traditionally, many applications have provided tools for what's known as a reactive approach. This process involves periodically scouring your database, sifting through all your recorded data, and looking for overlaps that suggest duplication. While effective to a certain degree, this method is tantamount to closing the barn door after the horse has bolted -- the mess is already made.

SmartSuite, however, is forging a new path with their latest feature - an automation action designed to merge records seamlessly. This game-changing tool takes a proactive stance, ensuring that duplicates are identified and handled at the point of entry, before they can clutter your database.

An Illustrative Walkthrough

Let's break down exactly how this works. Imagine you have a table of contacts, much like my own example here with 'Dan Leman' as a placeholder. Picture his contact details - email, phone number, all nicely housed within the SmartSuite system. What's imperative here is avoiding redundant details when new information is entered.

Without further ado, let's jump into setting up an automation that I like to call 'Prevent Duplicate Contacts'. Following the steps SmartSuite lays out, we'll begin by adding a trigger to this automation. If you happen to integrate SmartSuite's forms on your website, that's a great trigger source too.

Choosing Your Trigger and Action

Once the trigger - in our case, the creation of a record - is established, we move on to defining the action. Here lies the impressive new feature still in beta: the 'Merge Records' action.

You'll first direct this action towards the appropriate table, such as your contacts. From there, you decide on the field matching criteria, pivotal in determining which fields indicate potential duplication. Email addresses are the most common anchor for this, with phone numbers often taking the co-pilot seat.

Crucial Decision Making in Field Merge Actions

You are presented with three decisive options: 'Replace', 'Append', and 'Ignore'.

  • Replace: Out with the old, in with the new - this option will swap out existing data with freshly entered info.
  • Append: Think of it as building upon history. For instance, a contact changes companies, and you wish to document both old and new employers side-by-side.
  • Ignore: Sometimes, the original data remains king. This choice preserves what's already in your database, turning a blind eye to the newly added.

Now, let's talk about those field merge actions. Should we choose to keep both companies in the contacts' history, we'll select 'Append'. The same goes for the notes. Take a scenario where a contact reaches out twice with different queries; appending captures both interactions, providing a richer context.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Testing the Automation

After configuring and saving your automation, the moment of truth arrives with testing. Let's consider our guinea pig, Dan Lehman, with pertinent details like the event where you met and his company affiliations.

Imagine a scenario where Dan's duplicate pops up - the same name (not a factor here), identical email, matching phone number but with differing notes and a company switch. Here's where the automation flexes its muscle - merging and appending information as instructed.

Post-saving, the new record is processed, and voilà, previous and current company details are now harmonized, notes are unified, and the contact is singular and pristinely updated in the database.

We were able to append the values. We now have 'Automation Helpers' and 'Zoom' as companies listed, and our notes reflect Dan's desire to collaborate.

Beyond the Merge: Expanding Automation Possibilities

What's impressive about SmartSuite's merge records action is that it isn't just a one-trick pony – it's part of a larger automation ecosystem. Thus, you can create a cascade of actions or follow-ups, curating a tailor-made process that ensures your database remains immaculate.

In summary, a reactive strategy to deduplication is looking in the rearview mirror. What we need is to look forward, preemptively keeping our databases sleek and effective. With SmartSuite's innovative feature, your proactive approach will undoubtedly set you up for success.

To experience the future of work management automation firsthand, start your free SmartSuite trial today!