Sharing Setting Update: Contact Records Are Now Public Read/Write

We have an exciting new & very important update to share with our Salesforce users! If this blog is too long to read, here is the skinny on what big change happened today.

All Smith Salesforce users can now edit all contact records, regardless of which user owns the record.

The Salesforce Advisory Board voted on a major data governance decision regarding Salesforce contacts. After taking two group meetings to educate the board on Salesforce’s Organization-Wide Defaults (OWD’s), also known as “Sharing Settings,” the group was ready to tackle the big question that’s been lurking around Smith since we adopted Salesforce in 2012: Who should be able edit contact records?

Salesforce offers three Organization-Wide Defaults (which give you a baseline level of access for each object and enable you to extend that level of access using hierarchies or sharing rules).

  1. Private: Allows only the user who owns the contact record to see that contact
  2. Public Read Only: Allows all users to see all contacts in Salesforce, but only the owner of the record would be able to make any edits
  3. Public Read/Write: Allows all users to see and edit all contacts in Salesforce, regardless of who owns the record

At Smith, we started with #2: Public Read Only. This gave all of our users visibility of all contact records within our Salesforce org. You could see contact records, but unless you were the owner of the record or had requested the owner share that records ownership with you, you couldn’t make any changes. This quickly frustrated many of our users, as we share many relationships with our constituents across the school. 

Our discussion with the Salesforce Advisory Board started with defining contact ownership. By default, whichever user creates the contact is set as the “contact owner.” It doesn’t mean that person owns the relationship or even has one with that record. Ultimately, we all agreed that the University of Maryland “owns” those relationships, not any of us an individual employees. We represent our institution when we engage with these constituents, and felt it important to use Salesforce to help us give the school back the relationships we were fostering across all of our constituents. 

If UMD owns the relationships, than the “contact owner” field seemed irrelevant for us… it was just a technical system requirement that a user be assigned in that field, but would not dictate anything about that contact record.

Switching our OWD from Public Read Only to Public Read/Write was our first step toward giving the University back as much as we knew about our constituents. It broke down any barriers that had existed prior, and made it easy for staff to provide updates on our contacts. For the first time, it allowed all staff to coordinate their outreach, engagement and interactions with constituents in the same exact place by creating one sole record for each constituent that we could all work from. 

We are excited to announce this big change, and look forward to improving our data integrity and constituent engagement through improved collaboration and transparency. 

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