All About Reports and Dashboards

If you have questions about your data stored in Salesforce, reports are how you get answers. First though, you’ll need to specify exactly what you want to know. Once this has been defined, then you can use configuration options to create a useful and personalised report on your data.

Essentially, a report is a list of records which meet certain criteria. They can be all of one object, or alternatively they can show records of a primary object and related objects. Filters can be applied to narrow the focus. Columns are added as required. There are four report types: tabular, summary, matrix and joined. More on these later.

 

Reports are used to make dashboards. Dashboards show report data graphically such as with a bar or pie chart. This can be useful for getting a high level and easily consumed view of your data.

As an administrator the first thing you’ll need to do when generating reports is to gather requirements. This will mean asking some questions such as what date range or type of records to include.

 

To create a new report:

 

  1. Go to the Reports tab
  2. Click New Report
  3. Choose a report type
  4. Click Create
  5. Configure the filters
  6. Customise fields to display
  7. Choose report type (e.g. tabular, summary, matrix, or joined) grouping if necessary
  8. Add a chart if desired
  9. Run Report
  10. Click Save As
  11. Name it and choose which folder it is stored in
  12. Optionally, add the report to an object detail page by going to its page layout -> Report Charts

The four report types are:

  • Tabular. Similar to a spreadsheet, they are an ordered list of records. Limited ability to use these in dashboards.
  • Summary. These are like tabular reports but they allow data to be grouped by certain fields. For example it would show the records grouped into ones that shared the same type. These are the most common reports. Good with dashboards.
  • Matrix. Like summary reports but they allow you to group by two fields instead of one. So for example you’d see records grouped into record type, but then also by another field such as record owner. It’s good to click “hide details”, as this will clean up the display. Is used well with dashboards.

  • Joined. Joined reports allow you to essentially view multiple reports in one. Reports with their own types, filters etc are displayed in blocks in the space that would usually be just one report. You can add up to five blocks. These aren’t compatible with dashboards.

To create a dashboard:

  1. Go to Reports tab
  2. Click New Dashboard
  3. Drag a chart type onto a component
  4. Drag a data source onto the component
  5. Give it a title
  6. Click the wrench icon for additional configuration options
  7. Click Add filter for more granular control of data displayed
  8. To make it a dynamic dashboard (instead of running user defined), go to the drop down in the top right corner and check “run as logged in user”
  9. Click Save and Run Dashboard

You can subscribe to automatically run reports and get notifications when a report is updated. To do this:

  1. Go to report editor
  2. Click Run Report drop down menu
  3. Click Schedule Future Runs
  4. Fill in details
  5. Click Save Report Schedule

Follow a report or dashboard simply by opening its page and clicking Follow. If you don’t see this go to Setup -> Feed Tracking -> Reports -> Enable Feed Tracking.

You can share snapshots of a dashboard to Chatter too. To do this first enable the feature, go to Setup -> Reports and Dashboards Settings -> Enable Dashboard Component Snapshots.

You can also find a range of prebuilt reports in the AppExchange. Once installed these can be accessed in Setup -> Installed Packages.

Understanding the Release Process

Every four months, Salesforce does a “release”. This is where new features are added. This is a fairly transparent, even collaborative process; given the vast numbers of stakeholders involved. Seasonal releases are in Summer, Winter and Spring.

On the Salesforce Success Community there is something called the Idea Exchange. This is where anyone can submit ideas, or vote and discuss ideas that have been submitted. Ideas in the idea exchange are the basis for each new release.

There are a range of different resources to learn about each release; to suit different learning styles.

Salesforce recommends a 7-part strategy for succeeding with each release:

  1. Learn. As an administrator it’s your responsibility to learn about each new release, so you know what the new release will bring. At least a month before each release I think is a good rule of thumb. At this step it may be useful to categorise features based on how important or urgent they are et cetera.
  2. Educate. Share your knowledge about the release with stakeholders in your organisation. Receive input about what features they are interested in using.
  3. Plan. With reference to the release schedule and input received, plan how you’ll roll them out. It’s best to first do the ones that are easiest and have the most impact.
  4. Communicate. Stakeholders in the organisation should be aware of coming changes. This can be done through newsletters, chatter groups, webinars et cetera.
  5. Test. Standard functionality should be pretty robust throughout releases, however the work of individual users and existing customisations may be impacted. Use a pre-release sandbox to test these.
  6. Go live. The Release happens automatically at a predefined date. At this point you’ll need to run through your plan in the production org. There shouldn’t be too many surprises if you’ve tried it first in a pre-release sandbox.
  7. Iterate. Monitor how everything is going. Be open to feedback. Keep a door open to questions et cetera.

 

How to Create an Opportunity Report and Dashboard

One common use of reports and dashboards is to display Opportunities data. There are two steps involved in doing this:

  1. Create an opportunities summary report
  2. Create a dashboard based on the above report

A vertical bar chart and pie chart showing Opportunities grouped by stage

 

To create an opportunities report:

  1. Begin by opening the Sales app
  2. Click on the Reports tab
  3. Click New Report
  4. Under Report Type Go to Opportunities -> Opportunities
  5. Click Create

Next you’ll need to configure the report:

  1. Begin by configuring the filters. For example select the opportunities to include based on who owns them, the date range et cetera. If in doubt just show all by having no filters
  2. In the section below there’s a drop down where you can select the report type, select Summary report
  3. We want to see Opportunities grouped by their stage so we’ll go to the list of fields along the lefthand side of the screen then click and drag Stage onto the part that says “drag a field here to create a grouping”
  4. Click Save and Run Report

Finally you’ll need to create a dashboard from this report data:

  1. Go to the Reports tab once more
  2. Click New Dashboard
  3. Click and drag the desired chart type onto a dashboard component
  4. Give the chart a name
  5. Click and drag the report you just created from the data source tab into the part that says “Drag data source here”
  6. Click Save and Run Dashboard

Voila! This is is a simple example but the same method is basically used for all reports and dashboards.

Global and Object-Specific Quick Actions

Actions in Salesforce allow users to, well… perform actions. There are standard actions such as create or edit records. You can also add custom actions. Further, actions are either global or object specific.

Actions usually have a small number of fields associated with them. These will appear when users click the action so that some information can be quickly filled out. Required fields will either need to be added or given default values – or the record won’t save from the quick action.

All actions must also be added to the relevant layout, if they are to be available to users. This aspect can be confusing: quick actions have layouts but are also themselves added to certain layouts.

Global Actions

Global actions are named so because they can go anywhere that actions are supported. For example the home page, chatter tab, object pages and custom lightning app pages.

To create a global quick action:

  1. Go to Setup -> Global Actions
  2. Click New Action
  3. Select the type of action
  4. Enter a label, name and description
  5. Customise further, as required
  6. Click Save

Examples of global pages include the home page, user profile page and chatter home pages. Notice that none of these pertain to any specific object. To make a global action visible on these, go to Setup -> Global Actions (in Lightning). Or, Setup -> Publisher Layouts (in Classic).

Notice that “Quick Actions” and “Salesforce1 & Lightning” are distinct layouts.

You’ll see all the global actions appear in the palette. Simply drag them onto the layout below, correct the order and click Save.

Global publisher layouts (which appear on home page, chatter etc) can only have global actions. But global actions can go on object specific action layouts. Object specific actions can go on object page layouts but not on global publisher layouts.

It is possible to create multiple distinct global publisher layouts and assign them to different user profiles: thus different users will see different quick actions in the global publisher.

Object-Specific Actions

To create a new object specific action go to the object’s management settings, then:

  1. Go to Buttons, links and actions
  2. Click New Action
  3. Select the type of action, this will determine which fields come next
  4. Customise as prompted
  5. Click Save

Then, you’ll have the opportunity to customise the action in a screen that is similar to the page layout editor. You can add which fields appear in its layout and add predefined values.

Finally you’ll need to add the action to the relevant object’s page layout (accessible in an object’s management settings). Once this is done, click Save.

-Based on Salesforce Trailheads-

Salesforce1 Navigation Bar and Compact Layouts

In Salesforce1 the  icon opens the navigation bar. Here you can go to many different places on Salesforce. Most often you’ll go to objects.

To customise the navigation menu, go to Setup -> Salesforce1 Navigation. Next, add the items you wish to the “selected” box. They’ll retain their order and the top one will be the landing page when opening Salesforce1.

Compact layouts are a convenient tool for showing key fields of an object at the top of the detail page. This is so they can be seen at a glance and is very convenient for Salesforce1, where people may be walking around, the screen is smaller et cetera. Compact layouts are similar to page layouts but they can only have up to 10 fields.

To create a compact layout, go to an object’s management settings and click “compact layouts”.

Simply name the compact layout and add the fields you wish to include (keeping in mind that the order will be retained). Click save.

Once the compact layout has been created you’ll need to assign it. Click compact layout assignments. Select the compact layout you wish to use and set it as the primary one for that object.

-Based on Salesforce Trailheads-

Introduction to Salesforce1

Salesforce1 is a mobile app which allows people to access most of their data on Salesforce from their smart phone. By its nature as a limited version of Salesforce and something that’s used “on the go”; it’s particularly important for the administrator to set it up effectively. Ahead of time.

If Chatter is enabled and the Salesforce1 navigation menu doesn’t have something else set as the top item: the user’s Feed will be their landing page. In this way the app feels a bit like using Facebook on mobile.

In the feed, there is: (1) A search bar, (2) sort and filter options, (3) feeds drop down menu, and (4) feed items.

There is also an Action Bar, which displays different actions based on which page you’re on. In the feed it shows global actions. In records it shows various items such as: productivity actions, standard and custom buttons, standard Chatter actions, and global and object-specific actions assigned to the layout for that record type.

There is also the navigation menu. This is somewhat like the navigation menu in Salesforce, except it displays vertically rather than horizontally.

The navigation menu has four parts. A search bar, menu items (which you’ve selected to be listed first), smart search items (displays recently searched items) and an apps section (with any items you place below the smart search area).

At a lower level there is the record view, which is unique to each object. Similar to Lightning, it has three tabs: feed, details and related lists. It also has a highlights section up the top, which is determined by the compact layouts for that object.

-Based on Salesforce Trailheads-

List Views

Records are displayed in “lists”. In lists; each row represents a record and each column a field. It’s a bit like spreadsheets but more dynamic, because you can filter and sort  them.

For our current purposes, a list only includes records of one particular object. To access an object’s lists; click on the object’s tab. There should be a drop down menu of available list views for that object. You can also edit the current list view by clicking Edit or create a new list view by clicking Create New View.

There are various options when creating a new list view:

  • Name
  • Filter by record owner
  • Filter by field
  • Filter logic (e.g. 1 AND 2)
  • Fields displayed

This process determines which records are shown in the lists. Finally though, the lists can be sorted. This is done by clicking on the field header to sort by. It orders them alphanumerically.

Importing and Exporting Data

There are two options for importing data:

  • Data Import Wizard
  • Data Loader

Both accept csv files (which can be exported by Excel). In general choose Import Wizard if possible since it’s easier and more efficient.

Use Import Wizard if importing less than 50,000 records and they are custom objects or the accepted standard objects.

Choose Data Loader if importing 50,000 to 5 million records or records of an object not accepted by import wizard.

To use Data Loader you’ll have to download the client application. In other words it’s done using a desktop-type application outside of the Salesforce browser.

 Similarly, there are two options for exporting data:

  • Data Export Wizard
  • Data Loader

Data Export Wizard can only be used about once per week. It can be set up to run automatically, however. There aren’t restrictions on the frequency one can use Data Loader.

The Basics of Managing Users

The first and most important part of managing users process is creating new users. To do this go to Setup > Administer > Manage Users > Users. Then click New User.

Then you’ll need to fill out details for the user: it’s fairly obvious stuff until you get to the role/profile/user license part which requires a bit more understanding.

Profile is a set of permissions which determines what users are allowed to read, write, edit and delete etc. User licenses determine what Salesforce features assignees are allowed to use. Roles define where they fit in the role hierarchy (which controls how access to data rolls up).

Once the user record has been created the person will receive a confirmation email at the address that was specified. To edit the user information, go to the user record and click edit.

Another important aspect of managing users is resetting passwords. To do this simply go to the user record and press Reset Password, which will reset their password and send them instructions via email. This can also be done en masse by clicking Reset Password(s) in the list of users.

If you want to experience the Salesforce org from the perspective of a particular user then go to their user record and click Login. This will “log you in” as that user so you can see first hand if they have access to something for example.

You can “Freeze” a user which will temporarily suspend their ability to access Salesforce. Finally, a user record can’t be deleted but it can be deactivated by deselecting the Active checkbox.