What is OWD in Salesforce and How to Set It Up

In the realm of Salesforce, controlling access to data is paramount for maintaining data integrity and security. Salesforce offers a robust feature called Organization-Wide Defaults (OWD) to define the baseline level of access users have to records across the organization. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into what OWD is, why it’s important, and how to set it up effectively in your Salesforce instance.

What is OWD in Salesforce?

Organization-Wide Defaults (OWD): OWD in Salesforce refers to the baseline level of access users have to records within an organization. It defines the default access level for records for all users in the absence of more specific sharing rules or permissions. OWD settings apply to all objects in Salesforce and are crucial for controlling data visibility and ensuring compliance with security requirements.

Why OWD is Important

Data Security and Compliance: OWD settings play a crucial role in ensuring data security and compliance within Salesforce. By defining the default access level for records, organizations can enforce consistent data access policies and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Data Integrity: OWD settings help maintain data integrity by controlling who can view, edit, and delete records within the organization. By defining appropriate access levels, organizations can prevent accidental or malicious data modifications and ensure the accuracy and reliability of their data.

Setting Up OWD in Salesforce

1. Assess Data Access Requirements: Before configuring OWD settings, assess the data access requirements of your organization. Determine which objects and records need to be accessible to all users and which should have restricted access.

2. Define OWD Settings: Navigate to the Setup menu in Salesforce and search for “OWD” in the Quick Find box. Select “Organization-Wide Defaults” and review the existing settings for each object. Define the default access level (Public Read/Write, Public Read Only, Private) for each object based on your organization’s requirements.

3. Consider Object Relationships: Keep in mind that OWD settings apply to all records of an object, including related records in master-detail or lookup relationships. Consider the implications of OWD settings on data visibility across related objects and adjust settings accordingly.

4. Test and Validate: After configuring OWD settings, thoroughly test the data access permissions to ensure they align with your organization’s requirements. Use test user profiles to verify that users can access and interact with records according to the defined OWD settings.

5. Implement Additional Sharing Rules: In addition to OWD settings, consider implementing more specific sharing rules, such as role-based sharing or criteria-based sharing, to further refine data access permissions for specific users or groups within the organization.

Best Practices for OWD Configuration

Follow the Principle of Least Privilege: Limit access to sensitive data to only those users who need it for their job roles. Avoid granting unnecessary access privileges to minimize the risk of data breaches.

Regularly Review and Update OWD Settings: As the organization’s data access requirements evolve, regularly review and update OWD settings to ensure they remain aligned with business needs and compliance requirements.

Document OWD Configuration Changes: Maintain documentation of OWD configuration changes, including the rationale behind each change and the impact on data access permissions. This documentation helps maintain transparency and accountability in data access management.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the difference between OWD and sharing rules in Salesforce?

  • OWD defines the baseline level of access for all records within an organization, while sharing rules provide more specific exceptions to OWD settings by granting additional access to certain records based on criteria such as roles or ownership.

2. Can OWD settings be overridden for individual records?

  • Yes, OWD settings can be overridden for individual records using manual sharing or sharing rules. This allows organizations to grant additional access to specific records beyond the default access level defined by OWD settings.

3. How often should OWD settings be reviewed and updated?

  • OWD settings should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they remain aligned with evolving business requirements and compliance standards. It’s recommended to conduct periodic audits of OWD settings and adjust them as needed.

4. What happens if OWD settings conflict with sharing rules or other access settings?

  • Salesforce follows a strict hierarchy of access controls, where more restrictive settings take precedence over less restrictive ones. If OWD settings conflict with sharing rules or other access settings, Salesforce enforces the most restrictive access level to ensure data security and compliance.

External Resources


In conclusion, Organization-Wide Defaults (OWD) in Salesforce play a vital role in controlling data access and maintaining data security and integrity within the organization. By understanding what OWD is, why it’s important, and how to set it up effectively, organizations can establish robust data access policies and ensure compliance with security requirements. By following best practices and regularly reviewing OWD settings, organizations can optimize data access management and mitigate the risk of data breaches or unauthorized access.