Preventing or Resolving Issues Caused by Duplicate Accounts


While Brightidea prevents accounts from being created with the same email address or employee ID, users can have duplicate accounts for a few reasons:

  • Your company maintains multiple email addresses for each individual
  • Your company had an organizational event such as an acquisition, name change, IT changes, etc which caused a new email domain to be used
  • User accounts are created with different email addresses from different data sources such as SSO, administrator import, or Employee Data Sync
  • Employees experience events such as marriage or departure from/returning to the company, which causes a new email address to be provisioned

Regardless of the reason, users having duplicate accounts can cause the following issues:

  • Login or authentication errors
    • Users are unable to access Brightidea
  • Duplicate account creation
    • Users receive incorrect assignments for action items, @mentions, group assignments, etc
    • Users logging into the application with a new/duplicate account and missing all their prior activity on Brightidea

As a result, Brightidea administrators are encouraged to prevent or resolve issues caused by users with multiple email addresses. This article attempts to provide helpful guidance on doing so.


How to prevent creating duplicate accounts

  1. When implementing SSO, use employee ID as the NameID attribute rather than email address.
  2. If your company has already implemented SSO using email address as NameID, inquire with your SSO team to change this to employee ID. If you're unsure about whether employee ID is being used as NameID, you can check this by taking the following steps: 
    1. Visit System Setup > Access tab > SAML Profile
    2. Click "Go to SAML Transaction Log" at the bottom of this screen
    3. Find a record with Type "Create Session" and click the record link
    4. Use Ctrl+F (Cmd+F for Mac) and type "NameID"
    5. Assess whether the value provided is email address or an employee ID:
      1. Example of address
        1. Screenshot_2023-03-01_at_12.45.59_PM.png
      2. Example of employee ID
        1. Screenshot_2023-03-01_at_12.49.08_PM.png
  3. When importing users, check your existing user data in Brightidea to ensure you have the correct email address for existing users. You can do so by downloading the user activity export from System Setup > Exports tab.
  4. When allowing users to self register, use login instructions to direct users to use a consistent email domain when registering.
  5. Periodically check for duplicate accounts by downloading the user activity export from System Setup > Exports tab. Periodic maintenance can help avoid issues building over time.

Note: It may not always be possible for Brightidea customers to use employee ID as a unique identifier. In this case, we recommend periodic analysis and de-duplication of accounts.

How to clean up duplicate accounts

If you have already experienced some of the above-mentioned issues caused by duplicate accounts, you'll need to take some action. Following these steps will help you clean up duplicate accounts.


STEP 1: Identifying duplicate records

  1. Download the User Activity export from System Setup > Exports tab
  2. Open up the export and, in a new column, create a formula that pulls the email domain from users' email addresses. Example: =RIGHT(B2,LEN(B2)-FIND("@",B2,1)) where B is the column that contains email address and row 2 is the row for this formula.
  3. In another new column, create a formula that extracts the prefix of the email address. Example: =LEFT(B2,LEN(B2)-LEN(AK2)-1) where B is the column that contains email address, AK is the column that contains the email domain, and row 2 is the row for this formula.
  4. In another new column, create a formula that counts the amount of identical email prefixes exist in the sheet. Example: =COUNTIF(AL:AL,AL2) where AL is the column for email prefix and row 2 is the row for this formula.
  5. Copy your formulas down to the bottom of your user data and you will now have a list of email prefixes and the amount of times each one appears on the sheet. 

Where you find email prefixes that have a count greater than one, this is an indication that there might be a duplicate account.

*Please note, this method of identifying duplicate records assumes that duplicate accounts are being caused by users having multiple email domains. While this is the most common cause of duplicate accounts, this may not be the only scenario in which duplicate accounts exist.


STEP 2: Cleaning up duplicate accounts

  1. From the above-mentioned User Activity report, look for duplicate accounts that have no activity. If an account has zero ideas, votes, or comments, it may have been accidentally imported or added to your system and can simply be deleted. 
  2. Where you find multiple accounts for a single user which both have activity, this will require some manual cleanup. Identify which account is currently being used by the user ("In-Use Account") and which is not ("Unused Account"). Visit the Unused Account's profile and click into each submitted idea. You can then change the submitter for each idea from the Unused Account to the In-Use Account. Once the ideas are transferred over, if the Unused Account has no further activity, you can delete it.
    1. If the Unused Account has activity such as completed action items, votes or comments, these activities cannot be manually transferred unfortunately. If you wish to migrate this activity between accounts, please contact your Customer Success Manager who can work with you to scope a paid data migration.

*Important Note: Deleting accounts will delete ALL activity from the account including submitted ideas, comments, votes, completed action items, etc. Administrators should not delete accounts unless they are fully aware of the impact to their data.

STEP 3: Ensuring remaining accounts do not encounter further duplication when using SSO or Data Sync service

Now that you've deduplicated your account data, if you have implemented SSO or Employee Data Sync service, and are using Employee ID as a unique identifier (recommended), you will want to ensure that the remaining accounts in your system have an employee ID applied. This includes accounts that you have de-duplicated per the above steps. To do so:

  1. Download a new User Activity export from System Setup > Exports tab
  2. Look for column entitled "External ID" and identify any records for which External ID value is missing or incorrect. These are records which may encounter future duplication if SSO or Employee Data Sync send data to Brightidea that doesn't precisely match these accounts.
  3. Copy/Paste the email addresses for which External ID value is missing or incorrect into Brightidea's User Import template. Work with your HR team to gather the correct Employee IDs and paste these into the User ID column of the import template.
  4. Upload the import template to update the External ID for accounts.

*Important Note: Updating accounts unique ID can create future issues with account duplication and account access to Brightidea. Administrators should test a small sample of accounts before attempting to import/update a large number of accounts. Testing should include asking users to authenticate after their account info has been updated, as well as checking to ensure there is only one account for the user with all necessary data associated.



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