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When to Use Lookup Helper Versus Process Builder or Apex Code


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What is a Lookup?

Salesforce lookup fields are used to relate different records to each other. They're great for showing relevant data all in the same place, but lookup fields need to be manually set each time by your users, which might be time consuming for them to maintain. There are a few free and paid alternatives that can extend this functionality even further by allowing the admin to automatically configure the population of the Standard lookup fields.

Lookup Helper

Lookup Helper is on the AppExchange. Lookup Helper Free Edition provides the capability to have two lookup population settings for free. It can leverage the standard Salesforce related lists and lookup hover-over capabilities. 

Unique Strengths:

  • Populates fields using a pre-defined setting so it doesn't have to be manually set every time.
  • We offer email and live chat support, and strive to answer all questions within 48 business hours. Whereas you will need to debug and test your own custom development.
  • Designed specifically to enhance standard lookup functionality


  • This app only handles lookups. You will need to use other tools for other business processes, instead of doing multiple tasks from one app. 

Process Builder

Process Builder may be your first thought for lookups because it is free and included with Salesforce. While the settings are not too difficult to maintain individually, it is more complicated to maintain multiple processes in Process Builder than it is in Lookup Helper.

Unique Strengths:

  • Process Builder is fairly customizable.  Users who are good at using Process Builder will be able to make Process Builder perform a variety of actions.
  • Process Builder maintains a version history, so if there is an issue with the latest version it is easy to revert the setting to a previous iteration.   


  • Process Builder ignores Salesforce limits, however, if there is any Apex that also gets triggered, an error will occur indicating the issue is with the code instead of the process. This and the lack of visibility to the process in logs can make debugging and troubleshooting difficult. 

Apex Code

This refers to any Apex code, such as triggers or classes. 

Unique Strengths:

  • Custom code will likely be more specialized to your environment than an app would be. This allows for customizations such as unique business rules, or only running for certain record types that you would like the lookup populated on. 


  • Bulkification and scalability are not likely to be considered when developing custom triggers and classes.  The dependability and effectiveness of these solutions will also vary depending on the competency of the person developing it. 
  • With custom code, if any changes need to be made to the lookup, it will require updating the code. This will take longer than simply updating a declarative setting and may cost additional funds in order to make the change.


  Lookup Helper Process Builder Apex Code
Populates fields using a pre-defined setting    
Has support    
Easy to use    
Personalized *with Development Services
Free *first two lookups
Accessed from inside Salesforce
Ideal Use Cases
  • Sales Rep Reporting
  • Automatically Assign Leads to Accounts
  • Assign Child Record To Owner Of Parent Record
  • More
  • Lookups with unique business rules bundled with other declarative process actions.
  • Lookups with unique business rules using Apex code
  • Only running lookups on certain record types

In short, Lookup Helper is "Best in Class" and will be the best way to utilize lookups for most common use cases. However, lookups are the only thing it's able to do. On the other hand, Process Builder and Apex Coding are more "jack-of-all-trades," so lookups are not as simple to maintain, but you can create more complex business processes at the same time. 

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