Choosing between custom fields, tags, and categories

It's nice to have options, especially when they help you organize and group your CRM records, but it can also be a challenge to decide which one will work best for each business situation.

Insightly includes many ways of grouping your data. These options can be used in conjunction with reports or custom filters to segment your lists. Let's look at some details for each option:

Custom Fields

When you have standardized information that doesn't fit into the fields provided with Insightly, creating a custom field places the new field right on the data-entry form. These are great to prompt your users for standard information that they should enter every time they create a record. See our article and video overview.

Used with: Leads, contacts, organizations, opportunities, projects

Pros:

  • Provides uniformity for data entry
  • Hard to miss since the field is included right in the data-entry form
  • Fields are created and controlled by Insightly administrators
  • Restricted to a chosen data-entry format (number, dropdown list, date, text, checkbox, or URL)

Cons:

  • Increases the record's field list, which could get long if many are added
  • When a field is deleted by an administrator, so are all the values of that field
  • Limited number of custom fields, based on your subscription plan

Examples:

  • Reference numbers from other systems, like Billing ID
  • Dates like Anniversary Date or Contract Renewal Date
  • "Markers," like a VIP Status checkbox
  • Lists to limit a selection to one item, like Contact Type

Tags

Tags are labels that can be added or removed to items without having to edit the record itself. Tags are great for record labels that can change frequently and don't require standardization. See our tags articles and video.

Used with: Leads, contacts, organizations, opportunities, projects, emails

Pros:

  • Can be added and removed without editing the record
  • Flexible and can be changed on-the-fly
  • Can be used to add multiple dimensions to one record (for example, if a contact is both a supplier and a customer)
  • Listed in an index for easy access and updating
  • Used to quickly filter a list with one click in the index

Cons:

  • Harder to manage centrally
  • Are not maintained separate from records, as a tag only exists if used on at least one record
  • Because they are text entries, can have variations due to differences in spelling and terminology
  • Do not allow spaces
  • Easier to forget to enter, since they aren't in a record's field list

Examples:

  • Ratings such as Hot and Cold
  • Individual follow-up notes, like "Melissa's Calls"
  • Campaign names designating mailing lists or recent events

Categories

Category is an included dropdown field in Insightly, but the values and colors of the selections can be added to, changed, and customized by an administrator. It's similar to a custom dropdown field.

Used with: Opportunities, projects, tasks, files.

Pros:

  • Included in quick filters for easy access
  • Hard to miss, since they're included right in the form
  • Controlled by Insightly administrators

Cons:

  • Only available for tasks, files, opportunities, and projects
  • Can only be set up by Insightly administrators
  • Cannot be removed if in use on a record

Examples:

  • Opportunity types: Product Sales, Service Sales, Product w/ Service
  • Task groups: To Do, Email, Phone Call
  • Industry-dependent project types: Maintenance, Installation, Upgrade

Consider custom filters or advanced reporting to group by existing fields

In some cases, you may be able to group your records without adding new fields or tags by using reports or custom filters.

Examples:

  • Reports for leads, contacts, or organizations based on regional areas.
  • A filtered list of projects that do not have a "Completed" status.
  • A report or filter for opportunities of a specific minimum value.

A good indicator that you should use reports or custom filters is if your tags or custom fields include information that you already have in other fields, like customer names or state/province. There's no need to duplicate data!

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