Dependent Picklists and Validation Rules

Since we’re taking a look at all the different automation tools  I thought I’d focus on two basic but powerful tools that Salesforce gives admins; Dependencies and Validation Rules.  I’ll describe how each one is used, the basic steps to set it up and then give a few examples of how to put each to use.

#1 Dependent Picklist – Dependent Picklists prevent users from selecting incorrect values based on a controlling picklist value.  Setting up a controlling picklist value is easy and allows admins to make sure that the data in their orgs is accurate based on the values of a picklist.

Steps to set up:

  1. Create two picklist fields.
  2. Select Field Dependencies
  3. Click new to create a new dependency or edit next to the field dependency relationship you’re changing.
  4. Using the matrix, set the dependent values based on the controlling picklist value.
  5. Preview your selections and click Save.

#2 Opportunity Status and Reason

Based on an Opportunity status picklist we can define a set of picklist values.  For example, many sales teams like to track the reason an Opportunity was Closed Lost or Closed Won.  For example; did a competitor have better pricing or maybe the customer discovers they no longer need that product or service.  A few other common use cases are Type and Subtype or Region and State.


#3 Validation RulesValidation Rules are used to ensure data quality based on a set of criteria.  A system admin can create the criteria based on a formula, if the formula evaluates to true an error is displayed on the record page and the user is unable to save the record until they make the required changes.

Steps to set up:

  1. Click to create a Validation Rule on the object.
  2. Name and describe the Validation Rule
  3. Enter the error formula.  Keep in mind that if the formula evaluates to true an error will display.
  4. Enter an error message and decide where you would like it to display.
  5. Save.

Here are a few examples of Validation Rules from Salesforce.

#4 Confirm a reason is selected when an opportunity is Closed Lost.

Let’s say your org requires users to enter a reason when an opportunity is Closed Lost.  A picklist value for Reason must be selected before an Opportunity with Closed Lost Stage can be saved.  The validation below can do that for you and then the error can be displayed at the top of the page or at the field level to let your users know what they missed.

validation 1

#5 Enforce Date value entered must be in the future

As a system admin, it is important to make sure our users are entering the correct date.  In the example below, we’re making sure our users are entering a close date in the future but the formula could easily be modified to ensure the date is within a set period of time or in the past, depending on your needs.

validation 2

As you can see these are some very powerful tools!  I know these don’t seem like rocket science to the experienced admin but implementing a few dependent picklists and validation rules can really change the game for your users and they’re a great place to start improving a Salesforce org for a newer admin.  Next in our series we’ll take a look at Assignment Rules!

Visit Saasy5 on Pinterest, each blog will have a board with pins to the resources used to write the blog.  Here’s this week’s board.  Since the Salesforce world is HUGE let me know if I missed something that should have been pinned and I’d be happy to pin it.

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