Changing Data Types in Salesforce: Considerations and Best Practices


In Salesforce, data types define the kind of information stored in fields, allowing for efficient data management and analysis. However, there may be instances where the need arises to change the data type of a field. This blog post will explore the business needs behind changing data types in Salesforce, important considerations to keep in mind during the process, and scenarios where data type changes can potentially lead to data loss.

Business Needs to Change Data Type:

  • Evolving Business Requirements:

    As businesses grow and evolve, their data requirements may change. New information might need to be captured, or existing data may need to be structured differently. Changing data types can accommodate these evolving needs and ensure that the system remains aligned with the business processes.
  • Integration and Data Exchange:

    When integrating Salesforce with external systems or performing data exchanges, it is essential to have compatible data types. Changing data types can help ensure seamless integration and accurate data synchronization between systems.
  • Data Quality and Reporting:

    Inaccurate or inconsistent data types can hinder data quality and impact reporting and analysis. Changing data types to better represent the nature of the data can improve data integrity and enable more accurate reporting and insights.

Considerations when Changing Data Types:

  • Impact on Existing Data:

    Changing the data type of a field can have implications for existing data. It is crucial to evaluate the impact on data integrity and consider potential data loss or transformation during the conversion process.
  • Dependencies and Integrations:

    Examine the dependencies and integrations that rely on the field being modified. Ensure that changing the data type does not break existing functionality or disrupt integrations with other systems.
  • Validation Rules and Workflows:

    Review any validation rules, workflows, or process builder flows associated with the field. Changing the data type may require adjustments to maintain the desired behavior of these processes.
  • System Performance:

    Certain data types, such as formula fields or rich text fields, can have performance implications. Consider the potential impact on system performance when changing data types, particularly for fields with a large volume of data or heavy usage.

Scenarios Where Data Type Changes Can Lead to Data Loss:

  • Narrowing Field Width:

    If a field's data type is changed to a smaller width, data truncation can occur if the existing data exceeds the new size limit. Ensure that the new data type accommodates the maximum width of the existing data.
  • Changing Text to Picklist or Multi-Select Picklist:

    When changing a text field to a picklist or multi-select picklist, values that do not match the new picklist options will be lost. Review the existing data to ensure a smooth transition or consider data migration strategies to preserve critical information.
  • Converting Numeric Data Types:

    Changing between numeric data types, such as from Integer to Decimal, can result in data loss if decimal values are truncated. Evaluate the impact on the precision and scale of the numeric data when converting between types.


Changing data types in Salesforce can be driven by evolving business needs, data quality requirements, and system integrations. However, it is crucial to approach these changes with careful consideration and planning. Assess the impact on existing data, dependencies, workflows, and system performance to minimize the risk of data loss or disruption. Understanding the scenarios where data type changes can lead to data loss, such as narrowing field width or converting between incompatible types, allows for proactive measures to preserve critical information during the transition. By following best practices and conducting thorough testing, organizations can successfully adapt their data types to better align with their evolving business processes and requirements in Salesforce.