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How does the contact/company duplicate check feature work?

Neoserra automatically checks for duplicates for you. When you create a new client; a new contact; or process a new record from eCenter Direct, Neoserra will automatically let you know if there is a duplicate record to be aware of.

When Neoserra checks for duplicates, it is important to realize that every character counts - including spaces. This means that:

  • ABC Company [space][space]

Is not the same as:

  • ABC Company

Nor is it the same as:

  • A[space]B{space]C Company

For more information about how Neoserra determines duplicates, please refer to the section titled "What is a duplicate?" in the FAQ titled: How does the merge feature work?

It is important to eliminate duplicates as much as possible from the the database to ensure accurate reporting and data tracking. If you have one contact who owns or works at multiple companies, then you can link that one contact to multiple clients as discussed in this FAQ.

Neoserra will provide you with slightly different warning messages depending upon the type of record that you are processing. In this FAQ we will discuss eliminating duplicates in the following areas:

Adding A New Client

When adding a new client in Neoserra, the possible duplicate company names immediately appear as you start typing. The duplicates will appear to the right of your data entry screen:

The more letters you type, the more duplicates are eliminated. If you don't see a duplicate client in the database, then you can go ahead and create the new record. However, if you do see a duplicate client record, it is best to hover over it, review it and determine whether you should use the existing record or create a new one.

Adding A New Contact

When adding a new contact in Neoserra, you will notice that the possible duplicate contacts immediately appear in the right hand column. The more letters of the person's name you type, the more the duplicates are narrowed down.

For simplicity down the road, it is important to eliminate as many duplicates as possible. If you create two Jane Smith's in the database then it becomes difficult to get an accurate overview of all her training participation and activity.

New Client Sign-ups Received

When processing new client records received from eCenter Direct, you will notice the yellow bar at the top of the page if there are any duplicate records detected in the database with the same address, same email addres, same phone number or same company name.

New contacts entered

Similarly, when processing new contact records received from eCenter Direct, you will notice the same yellow bar at the top of the page when a duplicate record is found:

Duplicate reports

To keep your database free of duplicate records, it's a good idea to regularly check your database for duplicates. OutreachSystems has developed several duplicate analysis reports in Neoserra to help networks determine whether duplicates exist in their databases and what the scope of the issue might be.

Neoserra has three built-in client reports that exist solely to identify duplicate client records. These reports are available from View|Clients|Reports|Reports:

  • Duplicates by Company Name. This report lists out all client records that share the exact same company name as another client record in the database.
  • Duplicates by Company Phone. This report lists out all client records that share the exact same company phone number as another client record in the database.
  • Duplicates by Company Name and Phone. This report is more restrictive than the previous two; it requires that both company name and phone be shared by two client records.

Neoserra also has two built-in reports dedicated to duplicate contact records available from View|Contacts|Reports|Reports:

  • Duplicates by Name and Phone. This report lists out all contact records that share (1) the exact same last name, (2) the same first letter of the first name, and (3) the same phone number as another contact record in the database.
  • Duplicates by Email. This report lists out all contact records that share the exact same PRIMARY email address as another contact record in the database. For purposes of this report, the secondary email address is ignored.

Note: All five of these duplicate reports are case insensitive, but not punctuation insensitive. For example, "OutreachSystems" and "OutReachSystems" would be treated as identical company names, but "OutreachSystems Inc." and "OutreachSystems, Inc." would not.

Our soapbox

It is OutreachSystems' belief that duplicate records negatively affect the integrity of your database and should be avoided at all costs. As an example, for DLA-funded centers, duplicates can cause you to overstate your total number of new clients on the DLA 1806-T report. For SBA-funded centers reporting to EDMIS, duplicate client records are particularly troublesome because not only will you be overstating your client count and understating your extended engagement client count, but cleaning up duplicates is impossible for data that was submitted to EDMIS in prior fiscal years.

There are other complications of duplicate records in addition to reporting complications. Duplicate records lead to confusion for your users (which client record should I be working with?). They also make it difficult to piece together a complete history of a client?s activity because information is spread across multiple client records instead of being available in one location.

How do duplicate records get introduced into your database in the first place? OutreachSystems has discovered that, most of the time, a duplicate client (or contact) record is introduced because the counselor didn't realize the client already existed in the database. Why didn?t the counselor know? Because they didn?t have view permissions to client records belonging to other centers in the network. Overly restrictive permissions are the leading cause of duplicates.

It's typical for a counselor to only be assigned permissions that let them view, edit and delete clients within their own center. But when the same client visits two centers that are part of the same network, these limited permissions force the counselor to enter the client into the database a second time, thus creating a duplicate client record. And since clients often visit more than one center in their pursuit of answers, multi-center networks are at risk of developing duplicate client issues in their Neoserra databases. OutreachSystems strongly encourages system administrators to give, as a minimum, view permissions accross the entire database to all counselors. This allows a counselor to see the potential duplicate in the network and address it accordingly.

Merge clients

If you do encounter two clients in the database that are duplicates of one another, then you can merge the clients as discussed in the FAQ titled: How does the merge feature work?".

Want more? Browse our extensive list of Neoserra FAQs.