Tip #115: Careful about reusing contact fields

George, work location just keep disappearing for multiple contact records

“This is not happening”, I thought to myself, there are no workflows, no scripts, no – gasp! – triggers on contact entity in this particular implementation. But surely enough, enter a value into the custom work location field and it will disappear shortly afterwards. Then I noticed that it does not actually disappear, it just gets moved to the second line of the address.

Eureka!

Here is what happened: in my previous life as CRM rookie (yes, this implementation is that old), I decided to re-use 3rd line of the address (it’s a 3rd wheel, after all) to hold additional attribute Work Location¬†as requested by the customer. It was all working fine until recently they decided to install and use Outlook client.

  • When Outlook synchronizes contacts with CRM, 3rd line of the address is added to the combined address held in Outlook
  • If there is no second line, the 3rd line gets pushed one up
  • Outlook detects the change in the data and marks the record as updated
  • Lo and behold, 15 minutes later another synchronization pushes the record back to CRM, except that the second line gets updated and work location gets deleted

Diagram: disappearing address field

Lesson learned

If you intend to re-use any of the contact fields, especially parts of the address, think twice about how these fields will be synchronized to Outlook and how clever Outlook UI may alter the content.

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