Data Tools for Every Salesforce Task

Picture this scene – I’m in a hotel room, with my trusty Mac. My favorite PC – bought solely for data-upload related work (some programs still don’t work on Macs, alas) is miles away. I need to upload some data into a client’s Salesforce instance, and I need to do it tonight.

Sheer panic and necessity = Megan learns a new tool.

In the world of Salesforce consulting, you can teach an old dog new tricks. And that’s actually the key in this work, I am always learning – from my clients, from my peers, from my own hotel room moments.

A client once asked me what data tool she should use for working with data in Salesforce. My answer, as a consultant for more than ten years, is the same I give my clients when they ask about any integrated tool.  The right tool for the job.

Here are my current favorites, by task:

Mass-Editing Data Within Salesforce: Apsona


Apsona is like mass-editing within lists, amplified. My absolute favorite is to filter a certain subset of records on one object (like Opportunities) and then update another field – either by setting a static value, or by using a dynamic value to include a formula. My favorite dynamic value update is using a field value to update yet another value – like Opportunity Name, for example – by combining Account Name, Amount, and Close Date. Apsona saves us so much time, we usually require new clients to purchase it for the course of the project – simply because whatever cost they pay they would double or triple that in consulting fees for the download/edit/re-upload data cleansing process.

Best For:

  • Mass Editing Data within Salesforce (quick!)
  • Mass Deleting Data within Salesforce
  • Mass Updating Records from Inactive Users (gives you hints which ones are inactive)
  • Mass Replacing select Field Values when importing from CSV (helpful when you haven’t scrubbed all picklist values)


Importing Data or Updating Data from a File:


Dataloader is the tool I learned under duress in the middle of the night, and it became a new favorite. I still have my trusty tools for complex data loads – but this is my new favorite web-based tool. It works on both PC and Mac, authorizes quickly, and allows users to setup new tasks to import or update records fairly quickly. It also allows you to lookup the Salesforce ID within the task itself – which is great – like via an external ID you have in the file. Finally you can schedule tasks, and have the task pull from a file in a certain location – for example, a weekly download file from an external system.

Best for:

  • Data Import & Update Files from Excel
  • Scheduling a Regular Task from a Downloaded File Location (like Dropbox)
  • Both Macs & PCs!


Data Deduplication & Finding IDs: DemandTools


Demandtools is the powerhouse of Data Cleansing and manipulation tools, and one I rely on regularly. I recommend an orientation from someone who knows the tool before you dive in – not the most intuitive, but a 30 minute overview will save you lots of time. There’s so many features that only Demandtools can do, and if another tool can’t do it, Demandtools likely can. Demandtools, like many tools, lets you save mappings – but also lets you save full scenarios with multiple steps. Demandtools is the one and only tool for data deduplication – you can run scenarios for potential duplicates (exact and fuzzy) and merge (setting the winner via another set of customizable, complex logic).

Best for:

  • Data Deduplication
  • Find IDs (without having to pretend to mass edit)
  • Anything other tools can’t do!


Other Comments:

Salesforce has spent some time improving its own Data Loader native tool, but honestly each time I’ve tried to get it to work I’ve encountered difficulties, perhaps because I’m (mostly) on a Mac.

What tools are in your toolkit? Can’t wait for your comments on tools you’ve learned and loved in the dark night.

Megan Himan has over fifteen years experience in the nonprofit sector and over ten years working on the Salesforce platform. She has a unique combination of deep technical skills paired with an ability to strategically convene groups, coach executives and leadership through transitions, and execute on project deliverables. She is Founder & Principal of BrightStep Partners - solutions with strategy for Salesforce success. In September 2017, she was named a Salesforce MVP.

Posted in Implementation Success
6 comments on “Data Tools for Every Salesforce Task
  1. Great summary Megan. I enjoy for its conveniency: no app to install, no need to remember my crendentials. However one important thing to remember is that the free subscription of has a limit of 10,000 records per month.


    • Megan Himan says:

      Thanks Pierre – that’s really helpful! I’ve never used it for data migrations (this is my dead of night tool) and now I see why – best for smaller data set loads. Thanks for this.


  2. Ashley Papp says:

    I use Dataloader most frequently because it is so easy to use. I did not know it had a limit of 10,000 records per month! I’m starting to get into DemandTools which I hear is amazing but it’s also a little overwhelming.


    • Megan Himan says:

      Thanks for commenting Ashley! I too was amazed at how easy was since it was a new tool for me. Demandtools needs a 15 minute orientation to save you hours of struggle (happy to do it for you – peer mentor!).


  3. Bryn Scott says:

    Megan – thanks for this informative article. Nice summary of each tool’s strengths. Love DemandTools FindID feature too.
    One thing about Demand Tools and possibly other tools – While being able to save DemandTool scenarios – I have found that it is also important to keep notes externally as to the fields and field names that need to be in the import file and are referenced in the scenario so you can open/view the saved scenario. This may be due to my inexperience with the tool?


    • Megan Himan says:

      Thanks for the kind words Bryn. Definitely re. the scenarios – they really only make sense if you do the same import again and again (for example, and import of transactions from a payment processor). In that case – I’d do as little data realignment as possible (so you keep the field names the same as the original file) then save that scenario. I often save one-off scenarios in the event I find an error in an import = like forgetting to map something.


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