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Best practice for working with custom fields across multiple pipelines

  • 28 July 2023
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When you split a process into two pipelines, such as qualification and sales or sales and implementation, do you carry the custom fields forward into the new pipeline? I have some fields that are unique to each pipeline, but there are many others that will be used in both pipelines. Is the best practice enable the custom field only in the first pipeline and go back to look it up in the opportunity in the prior pipeline, if you need it. Or is it better to enable the custom field in all pipelines where it’s relevant and carry the value forward when opportunity is closed in the first pipeline and created in the next pipeline? Example: I’m implementing for a residential design/build firm with a qualification pipeline followed by a Design sales pipeline and a construction sales pipeline Some project are design-only or construction only but some go through both. The address of the project (which often isn’t the clients’ current address so doesn’t really belong on person) is a custom field that could be replicated in all three pipelines or I could only put it on the qualification pipeline opportunity. Project Address is unlikely to change but there are other custom fields like the Project Scope or Start Date that will likely be updated as the project progresses through sales.  What are your thoughts?

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Best answer by Michelle from Copper 28 July 2023, 20:50

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Hi @CathyC, thanks for posting! This is a great question. Generally speaking, I recommend starting out by carrying over as many of the fields as you will find useful. This is because you will always have the option of cutting things out later. Whereas if you start with fewer fields, the data won’t be flowing over so if you decide you need those fields later, you will need to back-fill that data manually or through an import.

So your pipelines are Qualification, Design Sales, and Construction Sales. All Opps start in Qualification, and if you’re lucky, they’ll also go through Design Sales and/or Construction Sales. What you could do is carry all those fields forward, but also organize them using field sections. 

Here’s an example - here, I have an Opportunity in my Construction Sales pipeline. It’s already gone through Qualification and Design Sales (yay!). I’m keeping the fields that are always relevant--Project Address, Project Scope and Start Date--close to the top. But I also have sections for the info I filled out specifically during the Qualification process, the Design Sale process, and the Construction Sale process (circled in pink).

So even though this Opportunity is in the Construction Sales pipeline, I have handy all the info from the previous pipelines. And those sections are collapsible, so I can shrink them down if I need to focus on the Construction info only.

You also mentioned:

there are other custom fields like the Project Scope or Start Date that will likely be updated as the project progresses through sales.

One of the benefits of carrying the Project Scope or Start Date over to the next Pipeline is that you can look back to the Opportunity in the Sales pipeline and compare it to what ended up happening in the Construction pipeline.

 

Can I ask, have you already thought about how the Opportunities and fields will get created in the next pipeline? This is the sort of thing Workflow Automation can do. Basically, you would set up a rule that says: each time we Win an Opportunity in Qualification, and its Project Scope includes “design,” create a new Opportunity in the Design Sales pipeline and copy over the Project Address, Project Scope, etc etc.

Let me know if this is helpful!

Thanks, Michelle. This is really helpful. I see how sectioning will help manage the volume of fields. I have thought about using workflow automation and tested it a bit when I was in trial. When I create a new opportunity in the next pipeline based on the existing one, do I need to set up the automations to individually copy each field I want to carry forward or is there a way to get some fields copy automatically?

 

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@CathyC When you set up each automation rule, you’ll need to specify which fields you want it to copy over.

As an example, one of your rules might be:

When an Opportunity in the Qualification pipeline is Won and its Scope of Work contains the word “design,” create a new Opportunity in the Design Sales pipeline. And for that new Opportunity, fill in the Project Scope, Start Date, Project Address, etc, etc.

It’s a bit more technical than that in practice, but that’s the main idea. My guess is we’ll need two automation rules:

  1. One for Qualification → Design Sales
  2. One for Qualification → Construction Sales

In terms of next steps, I recommend you take a bit of time to set up the fields in your pipelines. Once you’re in a good place with that, let me know what you landed on and we can talk about the exact workflow automation rules and how to set them up. It’ll take a little bit of effort to do, but based on your use case you’ll save a lot of work in the long run.

By the way - I host office hours sessions on Thursdays if you ever want to talk live. Next week we’re talking specifically about Pipelines and Pipeline Stages, but normally the sessions are more of a drop-in chit-chat format.

Something to note while you’re setting up your custom fields: connect fields, multi-select fields, and URL fields don’t work with this kind of Workflow Automation.

Hope that helps :)

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