Table of Contents
Custom Fields Overview & Use Cases
Updated by Morgan Wynnes
Read Time: 11 mins
Custom fields are a quick and easy way to track unique data on various entities within Sonar. They allow you to create and store customized, individual pieces of information that Sonar does not have a native place to store within the system. They can be added to newly created or existing entities within Sonar and also provide you the ability to run reports on the customized data fields as well. For example, you could add a custom field to store the date a contract will expire, keep track of serial numbers associated with inventory items assigned to a customer's account, or reflect accessibility information for a Serviceable Address. Below we go over the process of creating a custom field, and also include a walk through of creating some custom fields that are commonly used.
How To Create A Custom Field
To create a custom field, you must first navigate to the Custom Fields screen. You can access this screen through the Settings menu - either by selecting "Custom Fields" from the Settings Dashboard, or clicking "Custom Fields" under the Misc header in the Settings list.
Once you navigate to the Custom Fields screen, click "Create Custom Field" and the Create Custom Field window will appear.
Once within the Create Custom Field window, you will need to complete the required fields before creating the custom field. An explanation of each field within this window and what it controls is provided below.
Name: This is a descriptive name for the custom field.
Entity Type: The type of entity that this custom field will be associated with. This can include Account, Contact, Generic Inventory Assignee, Job, Network Site, Purchase Order Item, or Serviceable Address.
Type: This defines how the custom field will store the data and what the input format will be. The available options are:
- Boolean - Appears as a dropdown with Yes/No values.
- Date - Presents a date selector with a format matching your selection in your system settings.
Accessing your Date Format settingsFrom any page in your instance, click on Settings -> System Settings, and under the "Formatting" header, locate the "Date Format" field
This dropdown allows you to select from the following formats:
1. YYYY-MM-DD (e.g. 2021-03-24)
2. MM-DD-YYYY (e.g. 06-30-2021)
3. DD-MM-YYYY (e.g. 25-12-2021)
4. Verbose (e.g. January 1st, 2022)
- Text - A free form text field that allows the input of data
Required: This checkbox allows you to determine whether or not a custom field should be required to be filled out when the entity it is associated with is created.
Unique: This checkbox can enforce that each value input for this custom field must be unique throughout the system.
Once you have successfully created your custom field, it will appear in the list on the Custom Fields screen.
After the field is created you will have the options to edit it (by clicking "Edit") or delete it (by selecting "Delete" from the downwards arrow menu) from this screen. Clicking the sideways arrow, next to the Edit menu, will open a sidebar window where you can view the custom field's details, including an activity log for the field. The simple/advanced filtering methods are also available on this page so that you can quickly find the custom field(s) you are looking for when there are multiple fields in the table. For more information on how the simple/advanced filters work, take a look at the Filtering: Simple vs Advanced article here.
Example Use Cases
Below are a few examples of commonly used custom fields along with an overview of how to set them up within Sonar.
Example Use Case #1: How Did You Hear About Us
For the first example, we are going to create a custom field that will store information regarding where the customer heard about us. We have been implementing different marketing initiatives and want to collect data that we can then use to determine which initiatives and advertisement methods are working and that we should therefore invest more into, and which seem to be the least effective.
We begin by first navigating to the Custom Fields screen and selecting "Create Custom Field" which will display the Create Custom Field window so that we can fill out the details for this custom field.
We have made the field required because we want this field to be filled out for any newly created accounts going forward. The field doesn't have to be unique, since customers will have likely heard about us through the same method, so we leave that unchecked.
Our Entity Type is set as Account because we want this data to be collected when a new account is created. We could have it set to Contact, however, there can be multiple contacts on the same account and it is very likely that all contacts on the same account heard about us through the same source. This would create a redundancy, having to collect and fill out the same data for each contact, so we leave it set as Account entity type.
We choose the Type of field to be Text. This could potentially be made into a drop-down field, however, we want to collect as detailed information as possible; this way, if the answer is 'social media' we can further break it down to what specific platform, or if the customer was a referral, we can input which current customer referred them. Since the drop-down field types require preset options, we decide that the Text type makes the most sense for our purposes.
Now that we have determined how this custom field should be set up, we click "Create" and can now begin collecting this information when we add new accounts. After several accounts have been added, with our new required custom field being filled out each time, we now have data that we can run a report on to see which advertisement methods seem to be working and can use that data for our marketing decisions going forward.
Example Use Case #2: Account Manager
For our next example, we are going to create a custom field for the purpose of collecting the name of the Account Manager for every account we add into our system. By knowing which of our employees manages which accounts we can know who to go to if there are any questions regarding an account, and also who to direct the customer to if they call in wishing to speak to them. It also helps us ensure that we have an evenly distributed workload among our account managers, since we can easily run a report on this custom field once it is created that can provide us with the account manager for every account.
First, we navigate to the Custom Fields screen through the "Settings" menu on the left-hand panel. Once we get to this screen, we click "Create Custom Field" and have the Create Custom Field window displayed.
We choose Account as the Entity Type, because account managers handle accounts (not individual contacts), and leave the Unique box unchecked since multiple accounts can have the same account manager. Since we are refining our processes at the moment and account managers are not always assigned at the same time the account is created, we leave the Required box unchecked - otherwise, we would not be able to create the new account without this required field being completed. However, once we have solidified our processes, we can always go back and edit this Account Manager field so that it is required going forward. We set the Type as Text to make a drop-down for consistency and convenience because we don't want employees having to type in the name of the account manager every time and also want to eliminate the chance of the name being entered incorrectly.
To create the drop-down, we check off the Restrict values that can be entered? checkbox so that we can add in our drop-down list items. To add/remove options to the drop-down we can use the "+" and "-" buttons - each time you select the "+" a new drop-down list item will appear, and selecting the "-" will result in an option being removed. We have 5 account managers currently, so we list them all here as our drop-down options and then click "Create".
Now we have successfully created the Account Manager custom field and can begin filling it out on existing accounts and also as accounts are newly created.
Example Use Case #3: Customer Reference Number
In this example, we are going to create a custom field that will be used to store a specific piece of information for customers, which is federally mandated to be displayed on their invoices within Sonar. In order for customers to pay their bill online, the payment system being utilized requires a unique customer code for each customer account, in order to identify the invoice being paid. When the customer account is created in Sonar, this unique reference number is generated externally, at which point we need to track it and associate it with the account in order to display it on the customer's invoice.
We first navigate to the Custom Fields screen and select the "Create Custom Field" button which will display the Create Custom Field window.
We choose Account as the Entity Type since this will be used on an account basis, and is not tied to an individual contact. The Unique and Required fields are checked off since this reference number will be a unique identifier for each account, and is legally required to be displayed on the invoice; because of this legal requirement, we need to ensure that this field is being generated and recorded at the time of account creation, otherwise we want to prevent the account from being created.
The Type of the field is text, as each reference number is made up of 5 - 20 numerical digits, and we do not want to restrict the values that can be entered, since each reference number needs to be unique within the system. Now that we are finished entering in the custom field details, we click "Create" and can now see our new field in the table on the Custom Fields screen.
At this point, we can now set up our invoices to include this field when they are generated and sent out to customers. To do so, we navigate into the Companies page through the Settings menu (Settings > Companies) and select the "Edit" button next to the company that we want to alter the invoices for.
Upon clicking the edit button, the Edit Company window will appear, where we can select our custom field from the drop down list provided.
Now that we have set up the custom field to be displayed on the invoices, anytime customers receive their invoices they will now see their customer reference number displayed along with the rest of the information.
Example Use Case #4: Tracking FTTH
For our final example, we are going to create a custom field for a serviceable address so that we can track our FTTH deployments by PON and ONT. The benefit of attaching this information to a property, as opposed to a customer account, is that there will be no need to translate information between accounts should the customer move elsewhere. This same feature can be adopted to keep track of accessibility notes for a property or even information pertaining to CPE location.
To enable this field, we must navigate to the Custom Fields area within our instance Settings. Once there, we will click on "Create Custom Field" to open the configuration modal.
From here, we will set the Name to FTTH Drop so as to reflect the intention of this field. The PON and ONT will be unique per address, so we have enabled the Unique field; this should also act as another layer of quality by preventing duplicate identifiers. As we want this information to be tied to the addresses in our instance, rather than a customer account, we are going to select Serviceable Address for the Entity Type. The PON and ONT information we intend to record is made up of alphanumerical digits e.g. PON 3 - ONT 17, due to this we shall select Text for the Type and forgo restricting the values. Once all fields are complete, we click "Create" and can now see our new addition referenced in the Custom Fields table.
With our new custom field created, we can now utilize it to reference Fiber information when we are creating or editing a Serviceable Address in our instance.