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Salesforce.com Record Types: A Step-By-Step Guide on When and How to Use Them

This post provides guidance on the use of Salesforce Record Types, and step-by-step instructions on how to implement them in the Salesforce CRM platform.  As with all Salesforce admin processes, the best way to learn is to actually work in the platform, and it is highly recommended that you sign up for a free developer edition so that you can follow along. A basic understanding of Salesforce Administration is recommended before reading this guide.

What is a Record Type?

A Salesforce Record Type is a generic term for a tailored process based on existing and custom Salesforce Objects and Fields. In other words, a Record Type contains Fields, Picklist values, and other Salesforce UI (page layout) aspects specific to a particular business process, but contained within the general Salesforce umbrella of Objects.   

Why are Record Types useful?

This functionality becomes useful if your business processes differ significantly between users, products, accounts or otheranother grouping. By creating different Record Types, the Organization can control what Fields, Picklist values, and UI aspects (e.g. page layouts) are visible to a given User in a particular process. As an example, an Organization that sells a physical product as well as professional services may hide Fields specific to the product from the services Record Type, and vice versa. By creating two different Record Types, one for the physical product sales process and another for the services sales process, sales reps for each division will only see the Fields relevant to their group, eliminating the possibility for incorrect or irrelevant data.

Record Types can also be used to group Contacts or Accounts by their organization type, or any other relevant sorting scheme that your Organization prefers. An example of this might be an Account Record for a car dealership may need to include different information than the Record for a car parts warehouse. In such a case, your Organization may wish to create different Record Types for the two different Accounts.

Record Types are not limited to Standard Objects. As long as they are associated with a specific and distinct business process, Custom Objects can implement different Record Types tailored to the specific business or CRM need.

“By creating different Record Types, the Organization can control what Fields, Picklist values, and UI aspects (e.g. page layouts) are visible to a given User in a particular process.”

When should you use Record Types?

Record Types should be created when sales Opportunities, business processes, customer organizations, or any other Salesforce Object can be sorted into multiple, distinct groups, such as those in the examples above. Due to the increased back-end complexity required to create new Record Types, it is not recommended that an organization create Record Types for processes that are similar or share a majority of related Fields. Such Records are better controlled by Field or Picklist value restrictions, as determined by Field dependencies or similar.

Once you have determined that your Organization would benefit from using Record Types, follow the steps below to create and implement Record Types for the Object(s) of your choosing.  Happy Consulting!

There are some prerequisites to creating new Record Types, listed below. The specific steps to perform them all will not be covered in this article, but help and guidance are available from the Salesforce Help site or other training resources. This guide is optimized for Salesforce Classic. Working in Lightning Experience may require different steps to implement Record Types.

Prerequisites

1.  User must have System Administrator permissions

2.  Determine what Objects require Record Types.

a.  Record Types for processes (e.g. Leads, Opportunities) must be associated with an active Sales Process. Create a Sales Process before creating and assigning a Record Type for these Objects

3.  Determine what Picklists (if any) are shared between the Record Types and create them in Global Picklists

4.  Determine what the new Record Types will be created for each Object

5.  Create the Fields required for inclusion into the Record Types

a.  Fields created after the Record Type can be added individually to the Page Layouts afterwards

Once you have completed the prerequisites above, follow the step-by-step instructions below to create a new Record Type in a given Object.

Create the Record Type

1.  In Setup, in the left-hand sidebar, click on the drop-down for the Object you wish to create the new Record Type in, and click ‘Record Types’

2.  Click the ‘New’ button

3.  Enter Details for the new Record Type

a.  Selecting an ‘Existing Record Type’ (1) will clone the available Fields and Picklists from that Record Type into the one being created. Fields shown and Picklist values can be modified after Record Type Create.

b.  Select which Profiles will have access to this Record Type. Profiles so selected will be able to create Records of this type, as well as reassign existing Records to this type.

4.  Click ‘Next’

5.  Select which Layout will display for each Profile that sees this Record Type

a.  Different Layouts can be created for each Record Type in order to ensure compartmentalization between different User Profiles. See guidance on Security and Sharing for further information.

b.  Page Layouts must include the ‘Record Type’ Field in order to implement the Record Type functionality

6.  Click ‘Save’

a.  Clicking ‘Save & New’ will repeat the process, beginning at Step 3 above

b.  User will be taken to the Record Type detail page, and should with the Record Type customization steps below

7.  Record Type Details can be modified by clicking the ‘Edit’ link next to the Record Type Label

a.  WARNING: Modifying the Record Type Name may result in errors for Merge Fields using the original Name. Ensure all relevant Merge Fields are revised after changing the Record Type Name.

Customize the Record Type Picklists

1.  In the Record Type Detail page, click ‘Edit’ next to the Label of the Picklist you wish to edit

a.  Editing this Picklist does not remove values from the Global Picklist, rather it determines which values are available when the Record Type is edited.

2.  Add/Remove values from the ‘Selected Values’ field using the arrows

a.  Select a default picklist value, if necessary

3.  Click ‘Save’

Edit the Record Type Page Layout Assignment

1.  Navigate to the Record Types page for the Object

2.  Click the ‘Page Layout Assignment’ button

a.  This brings you to Assignment view page. From here you can view which Layouts are assigned to which Profile for the selected Record Type

3.  Click the ‘Edit Assignment’ button

4.  Click on the cells to select which Profiles and Record Types should be edited

a.  Selected cells will be highlighted in purple (default color scheme)

b.  Shift+click to select multiple cells

5.  Use the dropdown menu to select which layout you want to assign

a.  Modified cells will be highlighted in yellow (default color scheme)

 6.  Click the ‘Save’ button

 

When all Record Types and Layouts are customized, it is recommended that a test Record be created to ensure the correct functionality of all Fields, Picklists, and Processes for the newly-created Record Type.

About the Author:

Christian Bondoc
Chris is a Consultant for EDL Consulting, specializing in CPQ and CRM solutions. In his free time he enjoys traveling the world through food and cooking. You can find Chris on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christian-bondoc-3a893610