In a nutshell, record types enable Salesforce admins to offer different business processes, picklist values, and page layouts to different users. You can create record types to differentiate your regular sales deals from your professional services engagements, offering different picklist values for each.
Record Types provide a number of benefits, but if not implemented correctly, they can create unnecessarily complex environments for both users and Salesforce admins alike. Additionally, you can control your Related Lists, which should be displayed for each type of record.
For instance, if you have 2 types of Applications that your students apply for, a Masters program and/or an Undergraduate program, and each Application has different data requirements, you may want to set up 2 Record Types (i.e. Masters, Undergraduate) where you only show Essay Questions that apply to the Masters Application on the Masters Record Type.
Once you create a Record Type, you can assign it a Page Layout and display your desired fields. Then you can apply the page Layout to the Profiles of Users that will be accessing it.
So, when would it make sense to create a Record Type?
1. It would be best to create Record Types when they can be easily differentiated by an end-user. For instance, when you’re creating a Record Type on Accounts called Corporation that displays a field called Annual Revenue, and another Record Type called Foundation that displays Grant Potential is fine, since users can easily determine what Record Type to select when creating that Account.
2. Create Record Types when you need to provide different Page Layouts, Buttons, Custom Links, Picklist values, Related Lists, and Processes (on Opportunities and Cases) based on different job functions. For instance, if your Volunteers only need access to In-Kind Donations, while your Development staff can access Cash Donations and In-Kind Donations, you can go ahead and create two record types on Donations (Opportunities), namely, In-Kind Donations and Cash Donations.
You can assign only In-Kind to Volunteer Custom Profile while the Staff Custom Profile can have both Record Types assigned to it. You’d also have to create separate page layouts for each Record Type. For Volunteers, they may further select In-Kind as their Default Record Type. Now when the Staff creates a Donation, they will be offered a choice to either pick In-Kind Donation or Cash Donation, while Volunteers will not be offered that selection, and will be directed to an In-Kind Donation page instead.
3. To take it a step further, you can use Record Types and Page Layouts in combination to display different Page Layouts and Record Types to different sets of users (Profiles). For instance, you could assign two separate page layouts to Corporations Record Type, one for Development staff and another for Volunteer staff, if you don’t need to display Donation related fields to your Volunteer staff. Just bear in mind that not having a field on Page Layout does not prevent it from being available in Reports.
When should you avoid creating another Record Type?
1. If the user creating the record does not have a clear understanding of which specific Record Type to select. This issue usually occurs on Contacts. For instance, if you have a Record Type called Board Members and another called Donors, which Record Type should a user select when they need to add a new Board Member who is also a Donor? While it can be rather straightforward to use Record Types on objects such as Accounts and Opportunities, you be best advised to evaluate your needs carefully before creating Record Types on Contacts.
2. There are a number of cases in which the Record Type is used as a Type field. So there was actually no need for a Record Type. For an end-user, this adds unnecessary steps/clicks that could have been avoided.
3. If you are only creating a Record Type to display different page layouts to different sets of end-users. This can easily be accomplished by creating different Page Layouts and assigning them to Profiles, so there’s really no need to create another Record Type.
Let’s look at an example. If a Recruitment staff does not need to see Donation related fields on the Contact, while the Development staff does, you can create separate Page Layouts and apply them to their respective Profiles. As a matter of fact, if you just need to hide certain fields from Recruitment users, you probably don’t even need a separate page layout, as you can utilise Field Level Security to hide certain fields on the Recruitment Profile.