Are you a little bit like me? A co-worker comes over to you asking if you could help with this particular report they need, and then you jump right into the Report Builder to see what you can whip up.
WELL … I used to pro-react like that too, but not anymore. After I’ve gone through the pain of recreating what I started too many times, I’m now tackling this differently.
And if you have been following me for a little while you know that I have been a Salesforce Trainer for many years, on top of my Salesforce Administrator experience. Which means, I’ve not only learned myself how to approach Salesforce tasks like creating Reports and Dashboards in more a logical way, I’ve also seen the same pattern repeated by many of my students.
If you recognize this pattern in yourself, then let me walk you through the steps you need to consider BEFORE you create any type of report.
THE FIRST STEP IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP
Salesforce Reports aggregate the data which is stored in any of your Salesforce Objects, such as Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, Cases and so on. The data in these objects is being analyzed to understand business relevant metrics like user adoption, data quality, sales revenue, customer enquiries, you name them.
This means, you need to understand what type of data is stored in which Object and how some data is related to data living in other Objects. Take Opportunities for example: Opportunities store data about the customer, the amount to be invested, order number, delivery status etc. However, the information about the service or product the customer is interested in, is stored in another Salesforce Object, the Product Object. Products are then attached to the corresponding Opportunity through a link, or in Salesforce terms, through an Object Relationship.
Therefore, the Report Type you will need to select as your very first step when building a new Salesforce Report, determines what type of data you will be able to include in your report.
In our example, you will need to select the Report Type ‘Opportunities with Products’ in order to ensure you can add data from both Objects, Opportunities as well as Products. If you were to select the Report Type ‘Opportunities’ you would not be able to add Product details.
Did you know? -> In case you realize you selected the wrong Report Type later in life, after you’ve already added a lot of items to your report, you won’t be able to switch to another Report Type. No, you will need to start from scratch! 🤯
UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU NEED TO INCLUDE IN YOUR SALESFORCE REPORT
We often get desperate requests which sound something like this: ‘Can you quickly run a report on our latest sales numbers?’
Nice try! It’s actually a little more complex than that. Meaning, you would need to know what sales numbers they are talking about. Sales numbers of whose records and what time frame are they referring to?
Your next question should be about the details. ‘Details’ is what is stored in the different fields like the Opportunity Name, Amount, Close Date and so on. How much of this do they care about?
And that’s not all. Is there anything which should be filtered in or out? Do they want to see sales numbers of all customers or only a particular region or a particular product?
FIND OUT HOW THE REPORT NEEDS TO BE PRESENTED
Now that you know WHAT you need to include, what about the look of the report? HOW do they want the data to be displayed?
Reports have different purposes, such as analyzing data entry gaps, executive strategy meetings, sales forecast planning and so on. This means, the way the report is grouped and summarized will make a big difference.
Therefore, you also need to ask whether they need to see every single detail, or just a summary by sales rep or by customer or else. Do they require sub-totals or grand totals? And, do they wish to add a Report Chart or even require an entire Dashboard to get a visual representation. Visuals are great additions for PowerPoint presentations in meetings. Or even better, a live demo in Salesforce during the meeting.
As you can see, creating Salesforce Reports requires a lot of detail and understanding how the data in Salesforce is stored and managed.
If you follow the above steps, I can promise you that your reporting life will become so much easier and more fun. Creating Reports and Dashboards became one of my personal favorites amongst the many Salesforce tasks. The results which come out of these reports can reveal so much about your Salesforce Users as well as your business success.
If you want to learn more about creating Reports and Dashboards, it’s included in our Salesforce Administrator Certification Course. Our PDF Workbooks contain lot’s of checklists, flow charts, diagrams and best practices, like the above. You can even download and pin them to your office wall. 🤓
Let me know in the comments if this is helpful. And, of course, if you have another cool technique you use, let me know too.
And if you are brand new to the world of Salesforce, make sure to sign up to our FREE 21-Day Salesforce Beginners Challenge.