When we were fresh admins, Global Value Sets seemed like a gift to simplify our lives. With time, we learned that it can be a double-edged sword. Let’s muse on some of the pitfalls of global value sets in Salesforce. Food for thought before use. 

Contemplating Global Value Sets...

What are global value sets? According to Trailhead, “global value sets let you share the same picklist values with more than one picklist field.” It goes on to explain that the values can be restricted by record types. In practice, this means that the same picklist can be accessed across Salesforce objects, and with modifications. Sounds great, right?  

How can it go wrong? When should you not use global value sets for your picklist values? Here are some of our musings. 


  1. A global picklist is restricted by nature. Only a user with admin permissions can add to or modify its values…what’s wrong with that? While this needs to be done within the global value set and this means, users can’t add unapproved values even through the API. An upload with a slight difference in an API name would result in a failed upload, even for the admin. That is barely scratching the surface of potential issues.   

  1. Once a picklist goes global, it can’t go back. Do you need to make a change? It is not as easy as one, two, three. 

  1. Does your org work in a continuous integration environment? Do you use a release management solution? Global value sets are notorious for not playing nice with data integrations.

  2. On that note, does your org have a lot of automations? Those automations call on picklist values? We are going to leave it at that.  

  1. Is your business process undergoing changes? Maybe a global value set is not for you. Better stick with a picklist, something more flexible until things are ironed out.

  1. Unlike multi select picklists, global value sets are not something users ask for…usually. Global value sets look quite shiny when battling with repetitive picklist values. Maybe some of these musings will take a little of the shine off,  but if it may help you avoid an automation breakup, or a mini-crisis over an unmatchable value while updating 10,000 records.

This is only some of our views, what is your take on global value sets? How have you used them? We want to know. 

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Additional Resources:

Picklist Limitations (Salesforce Help)

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