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When a contact does not have an account assigned, it is not visible to users, even if there is a contact sharing rule active that shares the contact to their role. As as admin, I have looked at the sharing of the object and their role is included. The org-wide default for contact sharing is set to private.

From salesforce documentation:

In addition, if a Contact is not linked to an Account, it will be private - irrespective of org-wide defaults.

I need to enforce contact sharing rules based on role, which the contact sharing rules do, how do I handle these contacts without accounts?

UPDATE:

Spent a few hours screen sharing and demonstrating the issue to Salesforce support and they cannot confirm whether this is intended functionality or a bug.

We attempted:

  • Sharing by criteria to role
  • Sharing by contact owner role to role
  • Sharing by contact owner role to group
  • Sharing by criteria to group

All of which still resulted in insufficient privileges to users within that role for contacts with accounts, even though the sharing rule and record sharing screen indicated this contact was being shared to that role.

  • I can think of a couple of options, but first some questions: What's the reason for the contacts not being associated with accounts? Is the business selling directly to these people, or do you just not know where they work (yet)? – Shane Steinfeld Sep 16 '18 at 19:11
  • No problem, although the reason is irrelevant, but I am assuming you are brainstorming other solutions. To answer your question the contacts do not have accounts due to data loader / contact creation process errors that cannot be resolved as simply as using data loader or a contact creation Apex to create and set the lookup of the contact the account. It would make sense to create the accounts that are missing, but that is not a practical solution at this time. – S.B. Sep 17 '18 at 1:52
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    Ah. That makes sense. Yes, I was trying to think of another solution for you. How many contacts are we talking about? Is it okay if all users in the given role see all of the "orphaned" contacts? If so, and if there are fewer than 10k orphaned contacts, you -could- create a dummy account, and use a sharing rule to give everyone in that role access to the account. Would that work for you? – Shane Steinfeld Sep 17 '18 at 13:07
  • Unfortunately we already thought of that, but we are above that threshold of 10k and was instructed it would impact performance as you are mentioning. – S.B. Sep 17 '18 at 13:59
  • As long as you aren't over 10k per "dummy account" you shouldn't run into data skew issues. Again, the solution isn't ideal, but you could use multiple accounts as a short-term "fix". – Shane Steinfeld Sep 17 '18 at 14:32
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Salesforce R&D has confirmed that this is intended functionality.

They agree the documentation here isn't very clear so they have updated the knowledge article to include:

Contacts may not be shared independently from Accounts, so Contact Sharing Rules are not applied (even if they are defined).

Help Article: https://help.salesforce.com/articleView?id=000004005&language=en_US&type=1

Success Idea: https://success.salesforce.com/ideaView?id=08730000000BrOsAAK

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