Scaling Salesforce as You Grow, Part 1 [Tech Tips]

Scaling Salesforce as You Grow

I often find myself in conversations with co-workers and clients about the things that we see as common “gotchas” when scaling Salesforce as an organization grows — especially in a manner that supports data longevity, accounts for changes in people and processes over time, and can be easily accessed and understood from the Reports Tab.  Perhaps this series of blog posts is a more granular follow-on to an earlier blog post of mine, “Using the Right Tools for the Right Jobs with”

Here are several things that I believe can be done to support beneficial, long-term and volume-scalable approach when implementing

The “Owner” Field

In its purest sense, this is a lookup to a specific user account and part of data security and role hierarchy data visibility. The temptation with the Owner field is to use it to represent nonprofits’ needs to show who “owns” the relationship with the person or business on the record — for example, a major donor officer or executive director.  There are a few problems with this strategy:

  • Whomever owns the record may have different security needs from whomever owns the relationship with the person, and both can’t be represented with the “Owner” field. Also, what happens if there is more than one relationship owner for the person or organization on the record? Or, the relationship owner isn’t represented as a user, but rather a Contact?
  • A relationship is not the same thing as a security feature.  If someday your organization grows to need the features for which the Owner field is actually designed, it will mean doing some massive data realignments. Also, because is a changing entity, we cannot predict if it will use the Owner field differently next year, or in the next 10 years, and isolating relationship management as a separate field or Object function benefits by preventing the need to revisit this issue over time.
  • Lastly, when a user account associated with a record Owner field is deactivated, the record becomes read-only to other users (because Owner is a security feature). It’s far easier to transfer record ownership based on data visibility needs instead of wondering who and how is going to be the new relationship owner.

Keeping these points in mind will help to ensure you set up the Owner field in a way that will serve your organization well for years to come.

Do you have any tips to add regarding the Owner field? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Watch The Connected Cause for the next articles in this series for considerations about Multi-Select Picklists, Picklist Value Collisions, and Activities.

Tracy Kronzak

About Tracy Kronzak

Tracy is a CRM implementation strategy, change management, and organizational leadership and technology adoption expert. She has more than 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and its related industries, including philanthropy, activism, research, technology management, and Salesforce CRM platform consulting. She holds a Master of Public Administration degree from New York University, and is a Certified Administrator and Developer. Tracy frequently presents on CRM selection/implementation and technology strategy, and is a proud member of the NTEN Community, serving in an advisory capacity to the NTC and Leading Change conferences. In August 2014, Tracy was recognized by the Salesforce Foundation as one of 30 Community Heroes for her contributions to the advancement of nonprofits using In her free time, she is a ceramic artist and potter, avid bicyclist, and burgeoning markswoman.


  1. Bran Scott

    Great points, Tracy. In fact, organizations new to Salesforce might consider removing the Owner field from the Contact page layout just to prevent confusion. That’s another cool feature of Salesforce – you can configure pages to match your users needs without disrupting functionality. The Owner field will still exist and provide security, but users won’t see it.

  2. Great points. I think so often people don’t think through all of the potential scenarios and just assume it will always be the same as the relationship manager. While this is true much of the time, there are some good points to consider that will allow an organization to scale.

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