One of the biggest changes that came in the Summer ‘16 update was the ability to attach a contact to multiple accounts. This gives new functionality to a business that wants to track customers that are attached to many accounts. Before, businesses with a B2C and a B2B model would often use person accounts or a customized data model. This new feature could help data models be more streamlined across businesses and may rely less on customization.
What is it?
With Contacts to Multiple Accounts, you can track what accounts your contacts are related to with direct and indirect relationships. A direct relationship is the relationship we are used to seeing with a contact to an account. It is the account listed on the contact page when a contact is created in Salesforce. An indirect relationship is where things get interesting. That is where you will show the relationships between a contact and what accounts they should be connected to, but may not be their primary relationship.
How to Setup and Use
To enable this new feature, go to Setup | Customize | Accounts | Account Settings
There is a checkbox to Allow users to relate a contact to multiple accounts. Once checked, click Save and you should now have access to two new related lists that will help you manage your contacts who have multiple accounts to keep track of, Related Accounts and Related Contacts
You can attach the Related Accounts related list by going into the page layouts of your contacts and editing the related lists. And the Related Contacts list can be attached in the page layout editor for accounts. Be sure, when you add the new Related Contacts list, you remove the old Contacts list or else you may confuse your users!
Some more editing may need to be done as the fields available on the layout are very sparse to being with. To customize the available fields, go to Setup | Customize | Accounts | Account Contact Relationships. We are only going to work with the standard fields available here, but you can add more fields and update the layout as your business needs.
When you add a new contact from the account level, it is automatically created as a direct relationship. In order to edit the relationship between already existing accounts and contacts, go to the related list on either the contact or the account and click the Edit Rel button. This will take you to the new object Account Contact Relationship Information and allow you to edit the role of the contact and if you added it to your page layout, the start date, end date, and if the relationship is Active or not. Please note, you can only edit the type of relationship of a contact to an account if a contact is related to more than one account.
To create a new indirect relationship, it has to be done from the contact level. To create the new indirect relationship, go to the contact that you need and scroll down to the Related Accounts related list and click the Add Relationship button. Here you can connect the contact to another account, add their role, possible start and end dates, and declare if this is still an active relationship or not.
While this feature brings some great new functionality, there are some limitations that need to be considered before updating any data models.
For instance, you cannot edit whether an relationship is a direct or indirect relationship from the related list or the Account Contact Relationship Object. Whatever is in the Account Name field is the direct relationship and can only be changed by updating that field.
Also, the ability to automate this is very limited. There are no validation rules that can be added to this object and any automation would have to be done by a developer using APEX. The only thing that can be really edited by an administrator right now are the fields and the page layout.
It’s important factors like this to keep in mind when considering a change with any new feature and I would advise talking with a Salesforce consulting partner before ever making a org changing decision such as this.
All in all, I am excited for this new change and what it can mean to those who sell on the B2C side or deal with complex data models that have contacts who work with multiple accounts. I hope this is a feature Salesforce continues to invest in as I can’t wait to see what it will do.
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