A core use of any CRM, including Salesforce, is to improve the way data is inputted, structured, and presented to users – picklists are definitely the simplest way to tick these boxes. Even in the most simple Salesforce org, there will be at least one custom field that you, as an admin, created to support a particular business or technical need.
In this post, we’ll explain exactly what Salesforce picklists are, while providing some helpful tips for making use of them in your company’s instance.
What Is a Salesforce Picklist Field?
There are two types of picklist fields in Salesforce:
- Picklist: Users may select one value from a list.
- Multi-Select Picklist: Users may select multiple values from a list.
Simply put, picklists represent a predefined list of values for users to choose from when inputting data into a field. Reminiscent of the way data in a cell can be validated from an array of values in Microsoft Excel, picklists will please reporting teams, users, and admins alike.
To adapt the example above, what if I like both cats and dogs? This is where multi-select Picklists come into play! Regardless of whether the user should choose one or multiple values, this type of field is going to ensure that data is consistent. It may also be used in future automations developed later to sustain existing processes.
Create a Salesforce Picklist Field
Whether you have created hundreds of Salesforce fields or this is your first one, the creation process is similar. From the Fields & Relationships section on your chosen object, click the New button. Next, you will choose the field type – in this case, it will be a Picklist or Picklist [Multi-Select].
The most important aspect of picklists is defining the values that will be available to your users. To add a picklist value you can either enter values manually, or leverage an existing global picklist value set.
Add or Remove Salesforce Picklist Values
Be it a simple picklist field or a multi-select one, there comes a time where either new values are needed, be it across the board or just for one specific Record Type. There are multiple ways to either add, remove or condition the use of a picklist value:
1. Create the values along with a new picklist field, with the possibility of ordering the values and setting either the first as default, or any other through a formula.
2. After field creation, create new values and define which are used for each Record Type of the object – it is totally up to you if the record types share any of the values (or not). Just as easily, values can be deleted, inactivated, or just removed from record types.
3. If values are needed on more than one field, opt for a Global Picklist Value Set, to remove the need for updating more individual picklist fields across different objects.
Easily Find Duplicate Values
The first picklist related upgrade from the Summer ’22 release was the ability to discover which values are duplicate when creating new picklist values.
When creating a brand new picklist, it’s often a simple case of cutting and pasting the new values in. Once a picklist field exists, it becomes trickier when adding or amending values. It is possible to accidentally try to add an existing value, in which case, you will receive an error. The new Summer ‘22 update means that Salesforce will now tell you which values are duplicated – making things much simpler!
Below is an example of updating the standard “Industry” field on the Account, but this works just as well for custom picklist fields on both standard and custom objects.
Salesforce Picklist Mass Operations
While it is fairly easy to create, deactivate, or even delete picklist values one by one, the repetitive operation can become a burden when working with more than a few values, whether they are active or inactive.
In the same Summer ’22 release, Salesforce introduced some handy solutions to these admin problems. The enhancements will definitely increase productivity while reducing the time spent on repetitive operations. Let’s check them out!
Enable the New Functionalities
Two of the three features have to be enabled within the Picklist Settings menu in Setup. Both the Advanced Picklist Value Management and Bulk Delete Inactive Picklist Values are Beta features for now, and the chances are that Salesforce will keep improving them over the next few releases.
Advanced Picklist Value Management
Of course, one thing we were all waiting for was the ability to avoid the multiple clicks and loading of the page every single time a few picklist values should be deactivated, deleted, or re-activated from the older “Inactive Values”. While this is currently only available for custom picklist fields, it is still a really valuable addition to an admin’s toolbox. Take a look at how easy this is to use in the tutorial!
Keep in mind that similar to the above example, you can also delete, replace, or even activate the picklist values selected – try it out in your sandbox! You can check out all the details (and eventual changes) about the ability to bulk manage picklist values in the official documentation.
Clean Up Inactive Salesforce Picklist Values
Since we have deactivated a few values and they are not used at all in the organization, they can be removed for good by clicking Delete Unused Values at the top of the “Inactive Values” list, without even having to select a checkbox.
It’s likely that your first thought was the same as mine when seeing this functionality to clean up inactive picklist values – this can be a huge help for cleaning up Standard fields which can’t be restricted, such as Lead Status, since wrong values can be easily inserted through APIs. For the time being though, this feature is only available for custom picklists, so fingers crossed this will change in the near future.
Every Salesforce professional will encounter and work with “Salesforce Picklist Fields”, so we are pleased to see these great enhancements!
The new bulk operations for picklists were certainly lacking, and their addition to the out-of-the-box functionality has ensured increased productivity, especially when managing a high number of values.
If you assimilate the information better while doing hands-on work, Trailhead is the place for you! Salesforce has provided numerous Trailhead modules, which explore various field types, including picklists – Picklist Administration is a good place to start. You should give it a go to manipulate picklist data using Data Import Wizard or Data Loader, and become familiar with getting around errors such as Bad Value for Restricted Picklist.