Merging duplicate records in a CRM system

In the latter part of 2020 we published a post explaining one way of finding duplicate company names (or any duplicate information) in your database.

Once they’re found, of course, the next step is likely to de-duplicate the information, combining the data from two records, leaving only one.

Doing this manually can be a time consuming process if the data structure is complex. For example, when merging two organisation records into one, you may have to not only check all the fields (company name, website, various categorizations etc.) but also ensure that all related ‘child’ data such as contacts, sales opportunities, addresses etc. are attached to only one record.

For example, say we have two companies in a suppliers database, one called ‘ABC Goods’ and another called ‘A.B.C. Goods’. ABC has two contacts, Alice and Bethany, whilst A.B.C. Goods has one contact, Carl. We would want to end up in a state where there was only one company, say ABC Goods, with all three contacts linked to it.

This month, we’re launching a facility which does all the work automatically for you.

Using it is a simple process:

  1. load up one of the records that you want to merge with another – we will call this record 1.
  2. Click the clone/merge icon at the top of the screen and select ‘merge with another record’.
  3. Click the record you wish to merge in (you may need to filter to find for it). We will call this record 2.

agileBase will then merge data from 2 into 1, then delete 2. Wherever 2 contains data in a field which is blank in 1, 2’s data will be copied in. If 1 and 2 both contain different data for a field, a prompt will be shown asking you to choose which one to keep. Note for tags fields, it’s also possible to keep both.

Any ‘children’ of 2, e.g. contacts of an organisation, will be moved to 1.

At the end, you will be left with only record 1. Record 2 contains no data that hasn’t been copied to 1 (or that you’ve chosen not to copy), so will be deleted.

Note you can cancel the process at any point.

It’s possible of course that 1 now contains duplicate child data. For example, if ABC Goods actually had three contacts, Alice, Bethany and Carl, whereas A.B.C. Goods had just Carl, then after merging, you’d have one company ABC Goods containing, Alice, Bethany, Carl and Carl, i.e. two versions of Carl.

To sort that out, just repeat the process for the two Carls, i.e. use the record merge facility to combine them.

Administrator control

As an administrator, you can enable or disable the merge facility on a per-table basis.

Edit the table options and tick or un-tick ‘allow record clone and merge’. The clone and merge facilities are grouped together currently. If you wish to separate them for your users, please let us know.

Other improvements in this release

It’s been just over a month since the last release and as well as the new record merging facility, there are a handful of other new features and bug fixes, notably:

  • Any hyperlinks (e.g. links to Zoom or Teams meetings) in a calendar event will now appear in the calendar ‘quick edit’ popup that appears when you click on an event
  • A bug to do with importing emails has been fixed. Forwarding or sending an email to the system should now correctly attach that email to the relevant CRM contact in all cases