Validation is a process by which data entered into a database is checked to ensure that it makes sense or meets a standard before a record can be saved.
We have all seen validation rules in action while signing up for an online account. For example, an existing username, an improperly formatted email address, or a weak password will prevent you from finishing the sign-up process.
This same type of data entry check can be performed on fields within Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Health Cloud—which we will discuss below—to uncover how they can help prevent data entry errors before they happen.
Examples of Data Entry Errors
In the absence of validation, users of any database—including Salesforce—seem to find non-standard and sometimes creative ways of entering information into fields within a database record. Database administrators affectionately refer to this as “garbage in.”
- Notes entered into a phone number field
- Incorrect Social Security Number format (including the wrong number of digits)
- A percentage value that’s less than 0 or more than 100
- A state abbreviation in one record and the full spelling of the same state in another record
- A ZIP Code that doesn’t exist for selected U.S. state
- Entry of a past date for something that can only happen today or in the future
- Selecting “Physician Referral” as the source but leaving the associated Physician Name field blank
- A week-old customer service request being reset to a status of “New”
You have probably seen other examples of data entry errors within your organization.
Consequences of Poor Data Entry
Data entry errors such as the above result in missing, inconsistent, or erroneous information. The business consequences are:
- Misleading reporting and analytics (“garbage out”)
- The inability to locate a patient record
- Customer service SLA violations
- Bills and notices sent to the wrong mailing address
Occasionally, a data entry error can translate into a significant financial cost.
Creation of Salesforce Validation Rules
It’s difficult to anticipate all of the ways that users can enter erroneous data.
Fortunately, for healthcare and life sciences organizations that use Salesforce, a validation rule can be created quickly once a data entry issue is identified.
Rules run when a record is saved, so a user is notified of any invalid data entry after clicking the Save button. Custom text instructs the user as to what needs to be corrected or what standard should be followed.
The creation of Salesforce validation rules falls into the low-code category. In most cases, a rule can be added by a Salesforce administrator who is not a programmer.
To create a validation rule, some basic formula coding is required. Salesforce provides many online examples in its help section. For example, a Salesforce administrator can simply copy and paste the Social Security Number format validation code from this page. An incorrectly formatted entry will look like this to a user:
The validation rule in the following image was created using the simple formula shown below it.
The formula states, “if A and B are true, do not allow the record to be saved. Display a message that reads, ‘Please add a Referring Physician.’”
Peer-to-peer help with validation rules is available on a number of forums, including the Salesforce Trailblazers Community Answers area.
Third-Party Salesforce Data Validation Tools
Validation rules have a compile size limitation, limiting the number of conditions that can be added.
More sophisticated data validation is available through third-party tools that plug right into Salesforce and Salesforce Health Cloud. For example, there is a free app from ProvenWorks called AddressTools that enforces State and Country standardization on data entry.
This app will prevent invalid state names from being entered. It will also stop “MA” from being entered in a record if the data entry standard is “Massachusetts.”
The premium version of AddressTools provides a host of address and phone number validation features.
Salesforce validation rules are a powerful, built-in tool that can help prevent data entry errors before they happen. Validation rules are used to enforce business processes, streamline data entry, and keep Health Cloud data clean and complete.
Healthcare and life sciences organizations can use validation rules to ensure business processes are adhered to and that data entry meets required standards.