Merging Duplicate Accounts?

If your company just went through a merger and acquisition, or you are just in the process of consolidating multiple orgs into one, or maybe your org just have duplicate records, perhaps there are no guardrails in place. Whatever the reason might be, you are more than likely dealing with account duplicate accounts in your current or future salesforce org.

I will focus on this scenario: Company ABC acquired company XYZ. They are in similar industries and both have their own salesforce org. Both companies use Accounts to store their customers' or prospects' information. You are assigned the task of migrating those accounts into a brand new Salesforce instance.

On analyzing data on both sides(you must do a thorough analysis and data profiling as a step 0), it is evident that there are a massive number of duplicates around 7000 duplicates out of which 3000 are customers and the remaining are prospects. In the new Salesforce org, users want to see a consolidated view of accounts, so if there was Acme Inc on both ABC and XYZ, they only want to see one Acme Inc, and not two.

Here are some considerations as you start out:

Duplicate Criteria: If it is not already defined, you should define the duplicate criteria with the business, especially for the actual customers. Do not assume the criteria even if it seems a no-brainer like the same name and phone number or address. Do they use the DUNS number or any other criteria to define duplicates? These are the questions you must ask.

Connected Systems: What are the downstream connected systems? For eg: is there a finance system that uses Account Number or some other identifier to link to a Salesforce account? This is important because if this is not thought through, you may face real issues with integration down the line. I cannot stress this point enough. If the data upfront in Salesforce is merged and remains the same in connected systems, then there must be an integration in place to solve this before proceeding with the merge. You will want to work with different teams on this one and connect with the right stakeholders.

Sharing and Ownership: What is the sharing model in the target SF org for Accounts? If it is Private or restricted sharing, then you need to define the owners. Which owners win? Do the owner from org ABC win or the owner from XYZ or perhaps the answer is to pick one owner and add the other owner as a Team Member. These are the questions you must ask the decision-makers and get clarity on.

Winner Rules: Besides the owner, define other winner rules as well. For eg: If both accounts have different phone numbers or legal entity names or any other field, which account wins? You should be asking the business to provide these criteria. It can be field-specific criteria or a combination of rules. For eg: If an account from ABC has the latest win opportunity, consider this as a winner, and all the fields from this account win.

Related Records Re-Parenting: This approach will differ based on your merge process.

If you are merging the accounts post-migration — migrating all accounts into target salesforce, then use standard Merge call in Salesforce which will automatically take care of moving the related records like contacts, opportunities, etc into the winner account from the non-winner account. Tools like Demandtool comes in handy to do this. I have a video on this.

If the cleanup/dedupe and merged happens prior to migration, then regardless of the technology being used to dedupe and merge, you need to get a mapping file of winner Account Id to non-winner Account Id. Then when you migrate related opportunities for non-winner accounts, you will use the mapping file to parent them to the winner account instead since that is the new account to be.

Educate End Users about the change: Coordinate with your stakeholders, change management, champions, and trainers to make sure this is being communicated to the Account owners, Sales rep, and essentially the users who use these accounts on a regular basis. You don't want surprises post-go-live when the accounts are already merged, it's kind of late at this point. Perform this is in UAT or a lower environment and get feedback early on.

I will try to update this post as I remember more steps. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, your scenario may have other considerations. Other considerations can be Territories Assignment, External Reporting impacts, Account Hierarchy, etc. I hope this post helps to point your thoughts in the right direction.

Just remember, the merge process is irreversible. You can create the non-winner accounts but this causes a lot of work in the long run. So performing your due diligence at the beginning and only merging if you and your business are fully confident can save you a lot of trouble.

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