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The Happy Address Checklist
They’re not flashy by any means, but addresses are one of the most important pieces of information that we store in CRM. So, why aren’t we paying more attention to them? Let’s take a look at a few easy, often overlooked, considerations that will make sure your addresses are right where you need them.
The base address fields in CRM are very generic in terms of what specifically the address is actually directing us to. Take some time early in your implementation to standardize these items for transparency and usability. Running through this checklist will ensure that all of your users speak the same language when it comes to what exactly is in each Address.
The Data Structure
A question I get every time the topic of addresses is discussed centers around just how is this data being stored. We can see that there are addresses available on both the Contact and Account forms (and some additional ones in Advanced Find) but there is also the possibility to store an unlimited number of additional addresses through a related Address entity.
This might raise an eyebrow or two, particularly from your more data conscience folks who would question why the same type of data is in two different places. In reality, all of your addresses (including the primary addresses you see with an Account or Contact) are stored in the associated Address entity.
For the convenience of the user, CRM virtualizes the first few addresses and allows us to interact with them as though they were stored directly on the Account or Contact.
This means that when you create a new Account record the first two Address (or the first three for Contacts) records are automatically created at the same time. You can see this in action by pulling up an Advanced Find view for Addresses without any filters:
In the example above we have created a new Account from scratch. During the create process both Address Numbers 1 and 2 have been automatically added.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way… Let’s look at a few tips to make your addresses more transparent.
Checklist item #1: Rename the base Address fields to something more intuitive
We can do better than “Address 1.”
The default CRM forms show one address for the Account and one for the Contact. Using Advanced Find we can see that in total CRM will support two virtual addresses for Accounts and three for Contacts. These are generically dubbed Address 1, 2, and 3.
It is wise to consider what these addresses actually mean to your users and replace the generic “Address 1/2/3” with something that makes sense. You shouldn’t have to remember and train users that Address 1 is always the Business address. If this is the case, then update the labels accordingly.
For example, the default field Address 1: City is ok but changing to Business Location: City tells a better story. Address 2: Street 1 is fine but changing to Shipping Location: Street 1 takes all the mystery away. For anyone who has ever driven 2 hours in the wrong direction just to show up at a warehouse instead of an Office… this is for you.
Checklist item #2: Mind the Outlook Synchronization
For Contacts, it is important to consider how these addresses synchronize into your Outlook environment. You cannot change the labels of addresses in Outlook so your options will be limited. For example, if you rename a Contact’s Address 1 to Home it’s not going to make much sense in Outlook because CRM’s Address 1 synchronizes into the Contact’s Business address in Outlook not their Home address.
If the Home address is the primary address that you wish to track for contacts then it is better to re-configure the Contact form in CRM by removing the default Address 1 and replace it with Address 2 (and don’t forget to rename the Address 2 fields to specify they are Home address fields).
For reference, Contact addresses are mapped to Outlook according to the following:
Address 1 synchronizes into “Business Address” in Outlook.
Address 2 synchronizes into “Home Address” in Outlook.
Address 3 synchronized into “Other Address” in Outlook.
The example below shows how to access the different address types from an Outlook contact.
Checklist item #3: One Very Important System Setting
Related to the above item… Buried deep within the recesses of your System Settings (Settings >> Administration >> System Settings >> Synchronization) you’ll find an option which will change the contact address synchronization behavior.
By default CRM will only synchronize whichever address is selected as the “Mailing” address. If you would prefer to always synchronize all 3 (Business, Home, and Other) regardless of which one is the “Mailing” then you’ll need to update this system setting to the second option.
Checklist Item #4: Review the Composite Address field
CRM proves a nice composite control that can be used for Addresses. Whenever possible, I suggest that you continue to use this composite control. This item allows us to keep the pieces of an address in their own separate fields but the user may read or copy the address as one chunk of text. This composite control is not configurable however, so you should take a look at this to make sure it meets your needs. If you must require an Address field that is not part of the composite control (for example, County) then you will need to manually add it to the form. At this point you could either add your additional address fields next to the composite control or replace the entire composite control altogether with each of the individual address fields (this will take up significantly more screen space).
Checklist Item #5: Review Address Types, Freight Terms, and Shipping Methods
There are 3 Option Set fields associated to each Address. You should review the options and default value for each of these to ensure they are in line with how your business will track addresses. The Option Sets to review are Address Type, Freight Terms, and Shipping Method. You’ll want to first make sure the list of values matches what you would expect and second that the default value for each is set accordingly.
Note that the base CRM configuration will set the following default values for Address 2 on both the Account and Contact:
Type = Bill To
Freight Terms = FOB
Shipping Method = Airborne
Checklist Item #6: Do we need to track more than 2 addresses for an Account or 3 for a Contact?
Consider if you will need to track more than the standard 2 or 3 address for Accounts and Contacts. If this is the case then you will want to open the Form configuration and add “Addresses” into the main navigation as by default this item is not included:
This will grant easy access to related addresses from the top navigation on the form. If additional addresses are critically important then you may also consider taking this one step further by adding an address sub-grid to the form itself as in the example below.
If possible, step through this exercise early in your implementation. In particular, if you are planning on loading CRM with legacy data then you’ll want to make sure you get this taken care before that migration is executed. If you don’t then you run the risk of having addresses loaded into the wrong fields. You also don’t want to be blindsided when the Outlook synchronization comes into play and all of a sudden there are mismatches between address types. This should be a fairly simple checklist to work through but it may require thinking of your address in a more granular way than you are accustomed to. The upfront work is worth it. Having your addresses standardized will leave you better off in the long run.