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Fields of Gold - Custom fields 2.0

Our newest custom fields update may affect just a small part of CentralStationCRM but the impact it has on dealing with your contacts is rather huge.

Essentially, CentralStationCRM offers two mechanisms for categorizing and filtering contacts, projects and offers:

  1. tags

  2. custom fields

But recently custom fields have gained a significant addition: The option to define validation rules, namely text, numbers, dates or URL as well as dropdown fields with predefined values.

So what’s so cool about that?

On the one hand a large number of tags could make things hard to comprehend. Sometimes that’s down to a lack of dilligence and accuracy. But not always.

On the other hand filtering by custom fields used to be quite limited as there was no standard or format a filter could build on.

For example you could add a custom field to your companies for the number of employees. It would accept all characters like >100 or 100-500 but if you made use of that freedom of expression, it was impossible to get a comprehensive and reliable selection of companies with a certain range of employees. Exporting those values to excel would leave you with the same problem.

“Shit in, shit out”, as the guys from IT would say. Or less casual: If the data base isn’t properly formatted, you’ll inevitably get in trouble processing it.

This has changed now.

By specifying what’s supposed to be stored in your custom fields you make sure a standard is met when saving a record. If a character other than a number is typed into a numbers field, users get a warning. Same with the format of dates. As a consequence a precise search for a certain range or date delivers accurate results.

Requests like “show me all companies with more than 100 employees whose contracts run out before the end of the year” are now reliable and easy to make. Cool, isn’t it?

Same goes for processing that same data in excel. It has now become easy for the app to recognise numbers or dates as such.

What field types does CentralStationCRM offer?

  1. text (basically how it was before - all characters accepted)

  2. predefined values (offer multiple options in a drop down field)

  3. numbers (filter values smaller or greater than a certain number)

  4. dates (filter results before or after a certain date)

  5. URL (make sure the URLs are valid and clickable)

So what do tags have to do with that? 

Well, if your account is one of those with lots of tags, there’s now a great chance that you’ll be able to significantly reduce them while in the same time simplifying and streamlining the acquisition of your data.

Let’s say you have a certain number of tags to record the industry your contacts are working in. Now, you can create one field with predefined values such as IT Services or Supplier so users can immediately select one of those industries when adding a new contact. While you’re at it you can distill tags like Pharma or Medical down to one option for both.

Our fields were created before the update - how can we make the switch?

Piece of cake! Go to “Manage custom fields” in your account settings and click the edit/pencil icon next to the field in question. Use the button “Change field type” to specify what this field is for. In case it already contains records which don’t meet the new standard, CentralStationCRM shows you where to find them so you can make them fit.

In case there are too many entries which need change, you can export your customer data to excel and make the adjustments there. Custom fields can be updated via excel, too. We only recommend to keep the original export file in case you make a mistake as update imports can’t be undone, only overwritten