Add "Department" as a link-property between contacts and organizations
There may be several ways of solving this and apart from suggesting a solution here, I'm curious to hear how anyone has solved the following issue:
When people work for large or very large organizations, linking them to that organization adds very little information to the data set. What you normally want to know is which department (or other sub-unit) in that organization they are working at, right?
No problem, you might say, let's add a custom field "Department" to the contact and enter that information there. Fair enough, but this solution has several shortcomings:
One is that I will have to enter the name of that department manually in each contact. It wont't show up in a list when I've already entered that department for that organization. So you are likely to get different versions of the same department name etc.
A second shortcoming is that if a contact is linked to several organizations, you don't know which one the department refers to.
Another solution could be to simply add each department as a separate organization (and perhaps link them to the parent organization with a relationship "is Department of"). But that will inflate your list of organizations unnecessarily and make it difficult to, for example, select all employees of a particular organization (no matter which department they're in). Unless you link them not only with the department but also with the main organization, which would be rather laborious and prone to mistakes. In short: although it's theretically possible to accurately represent the desired information by this method, it would be a mess in practice.
So that's why I'd like to suggest to add "Department" as a link property for links between contacts and organizations. In other words, when you link a contact to an organization, you cannot only specify the role that contact has in that organization but also at which department. Period. It's as simple as that.
The difference to the role-field would merely be that the Department field is used to build a list of departments for each organization which would the be used to suggest department names when creating the next link. In addition, the list could be displayed in the organization's record.
What do you think?