Dynamics 365 Duplicate Detection Rules: How do they work?

Duplicate Content

In a previous post, I talked about the principles of how to maintain clean data within your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Organisation. Today, I’m going to show you how to setup duplicate detection rules.

First Things First

Before you setup the rules, the first thing you need to do is to make sure duplicate detection is enabled in your system. To do this, click Settings and under System, you should see Data Management.

Dynamics 365 Data Management Menu

This will load the data management settings page. The first section you will want to open is Duplicate Detection Settings.

Dynamics 365 Duplicate Detection Settings

You should be presented with the following options:

  • Enable duplicate detection. This will enable duplicate detection across the whole system.

You’ll then have three further options around when you want the system to detect duplicates:

  • When a record is created or updated. This will detect duplicates when a user creates or updates a record through the mobile client, Outlook client or web client.
  • When Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Outlook goes offline to online. This is more of a legacy option now, but in past versions you could use Dynamics 365 in an offline mode through the D365 for Outlook client. This would enable the duplicate detection when the client was synchronising offline data changes to the server.
  • During data import. This will enable the rules when you are importing data from Excel into Dynamics 365.

Make sure these are all ticked. Its very rare you wouldn’t want these options selected at all times.

Define your rules

The next thing you need to do is define how you will identify a duplicate.

Under the Data Management menu, click on Duplicate Detection Rules. You should now see a list of all the rules setup in Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 Duplicate Detection Rules

The first thing to understand is only published rules run. If you have rules setup and don’t publish them, then the system will not use them to check for duplicates.

The next important thing to know is you can have multiple rules running on the same record types at the same time. This allows you to define different criteria rather than relying on one rule to identify all your potential duplicates. If you have more than one rule enabled for an entity, the system will check the data against each rule independently.

Setup the Rule

To setup a new rule, click New, and the rule screen will load.

Dynamics 365 Duplicate Detection Rule Setup

The screen may look complicated, but it’s not. Essentially, you have to set ten values to configure a rule:

  1. Give the rule a name. Choose a name that will help you identify what the rule is doing, for example, ‘Accounts with a matching Account name’.
  2. Set your base record type. This is the data that is being created or updated in the system when the rule triggers.
  3. Set your Matching record type. This is the record type Dynamics 365 will search in to find a potential match. This is usually set to the same as the base record type but can be different. For example, you could have a base record type of Lead and matching record type of Account. The system would check all accounts for a matching record when you’re creating or updating a Lead.
  4. Is the data case sensitive? This is dependent on what data you are entering but most of the time I would leave this unticked.
  5. Exclude inactive records. If you’ve deactivated a record, do you want to include this in the results the duplicate rule returns? It’s important to know that if you merge records together, the child record is made inactive and is not deleted, so you may get some false positives if you leave this on, however if you are checking Leads you may want to untick this as disqualified Leads are inactive within the system and you may want to highlight these when creating a new record.
  6. Set the fields you want to check. You can choose from any fields on the base record type you’ve selected and you can add more than one field to be checked. In this example, I’ve used the account name field, but if I set the Account name and the Postcode, then the rule would look for a matching Account name AND a matching Postcode.
  7. Set your criteria. You have three options to choose from here:
    • Exact Match. The system will look for an exact match in the field you’ve selected.
    • Same First Characters. The system will look for the same first number of characters that you can define. This is useful if for example, you’re using UK postcodes to search on.
    • Same Last Characters. The opposite of above.
  8. Ignore blank values. If the field is blank, then do you ignore blanks or do you treat it the same as if it has data in. E.G. if your Account name is blank and you have another Account record with a blank Account name, then would you like this highlighted as a match or would you want the system to ignore these records as they are blank?
  9. Save. Once you’ve set your criteria, save the rule.
  10. Publish. Once the rule is saved for the first time, Publish should be available. Remember, the rule needs to be published for it to run in Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 Publish Duplicate Detection Rule

Hopefully you can see how flexible the duplicate detection rule engine is and how you can use this to help prevent duplicates within your system. Next time, I’ll show you how to setup a regular duplicate detection job to try sweep up any potential duplicates that you may have missed.

Do you need help with managing your Microsoft Dynamics 365 system? Contact Rocket CRM. We’d be glad to help by providing bespoke training tailored to your needs.

About Kyle Mckie

Kyle was born in South Africa to a South African dad and an Italian mum. Kyle has spent over 10 years working in the CRM industry (8 Years with Microsoft Dynamics). Prior to setting up Rocket CRM he was working as a Senior Solution Architect for a Microsoft Gold Partner. Kyles early career was spent in Hotel management and from that he developed a passion for delivering excellent customer experiences.