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Collaboration and Sharing with Reports and Dashboards

Reports and dashboards are an integral part of every Salesforce org and are key components to uncover business insights as well as to drive actionable decisions. The consumption of the data is an important piece of their usage. To make these analyses even more useful we can add layers of sharing and collaboration. This allows us to capture different perspectives, challenge the validity or derivation of the data and make it more accessible. Next we will look at several ways to do this.

Requirements Gathering

In order to build a report we need to have a set of requirements. This first step is often a less thought about piece of the overall process. Countless times I have seen reports created which when presented tot he users do not produce the results that the requester wanted. To avoid this type of re-work we can evolve into using a a strategic method of gathering our requirements and guiding and working with our users to make this process smoother. Creating a template document or even a custom Case record type can help with this tremendously. Let’s look at the steps to make this happen.

  1. Goal – Start off by asking what the user hopes to uncover or what the goal of the report is. This often falls to the end of the process, but I find it much more effective as a first step as it can lead to a more collaborative discussion. Users may know what they want to see, but they may not know the underlying data model well enough to know how to ask for it.
  2. Objects – Find out what Objects need to be included. How many times have you need asked for a report on Opportunities only to have the rebuild the report after the fact to include Opportunities and Products. Echoing step 1, if the user is not generally creating reports they probably don’t understand the difference between these two report types. Ask probing questions to prevent this.
  3. Filters – What are the filter criteria of the records that we want to return? Are we looking at only open Opportunities or all open Opportunities with the Type of “Existing Business”. Filters are how we include or exclude a cohort of records and can be many layers deep.
  4. Time Period – What time period are we reporting on? Do you want to see all Cases created this week or all Contract with an expiration date of next month? Find out if you need to show trends over time or just the general time frame parameter.
  5. Groupings – Discuss what groupings are needed. This allows us to aggregate data points to better understand metrics and are the basis of the visualizations that we use in the report or in the dashboard. An example of this would be to see all won opportunities this year grouped by Account to determine which customers spent the most with us.
  6. Fields – Get a list of all fields that will need to be included as columns in the report. This will save time and reduce the number of revisions that you will need to make.
  7. Chart – Ask what type of chart should be used on the report. There are many options including bar, column, donut, funnel, line and scatter charts. Be sure to find out what metrics that chart segments should show. An example is whether you’re counting the number of opportunities in each stage or the total amount in each stage.
  8. Folder – Every report and dashboard resides in a folder. Ask your users which folders these items should be put in. We need to make sure those who need access to reports and dashboards can view them by sharing the appropriate folder with them. Keep in mind that if you share a folder with someone they have access to everything in that folder as well as everything in any subfolders. Another key point to understand is that you can share a dashboard folder with someone that will allow them to see the dashboard and all of its charts. However, if you don’t share the folder that the underlying reports sit in they will get an error when trying to access the reports from the link in the charts,
  9. Dashboard? – Finally, determine whether you are creating stand alone reports or whether they need to be part of a dashboard. Also, if we are building a dashboard consider creating a custom app page and tab that would hold it. This can sometimes make it easier for user to access if it is frequently used. A custom app could also be created to house multiple dashboard app pages if there are lots of dashboards that could be hard to search through via the standard dashboards tab. Teaching users how to favorite dashboards can also help and reduce the need to create these app pages depending on the volume.

Chatter Feed on Dashboards and Reports

The first step is to enable feed tracking on the report and dashboard object. Once this has been done you can post messages, @ mention people or groups or even post a chart snapshot. Please keep in mind that these snapshots are visible to those who may not have access to the dashboard. This is a great way to keep feedback comments, notes about updates to a dashboard or conversation related to specific metrics all in one place.

Analytics Annotations, Notifications and Sharing

Annotations are unique to Analytics dashboards. They allow you to post to a specific dashboard component. These posts could be simple help or guidance text on the chart or it could @ mention a user or group for an action. The chart is updated with a visual numeric annotation icon, which can be marked as resolved or deleted later. We also have the option to add notifications to dashboard components based on the criteria of the chart. An example of this would be if the pipeline amount of any individual state exceeds a certain threshold. Up to ten notifications can be created per dashboard. You must enable feed tracking on Analytics Asset to use this feature.

Report and Dashboard Subscriptions

Subscribing to reports and dashboards is a great way to keep yourself and your users from having to search for results. This allows important metrics to be sent on a pre-determined cadence via email. Through this functionality the report table or dashboard charts are emailed to you on a frequency of daily, weekly or monthly. You may also add conditions to the report subscription and choose to have pushes upon dashboard refresh if chosen.

System Permissions Needed:
Subscribe to Dashboards
Subscribe to Dashboards: Add Recipients
Subscribe to Dashboards: Send to Groups and Roles
Subscribe to Reports
Subscribe to Reports: Add Recipients
Subscribe to Reports: Send to Groups and Roles
Subscribe to Reports: Set Running User

Share Reports in Quip

Through the use of Quip in Salesforce we now have the ability to link reports into Quip documents as a live app. This will place the table portion of the report in the document and it can be refreshed to keep the data up to date. The one negative right now is that you cannot add the report chart or a full dashboard in the document. You can however, create a chart based on the report table. This type of sharing allows you to share report results with users or customers who may not have access to your Org. This report data can be configured as a live app to be refreshed and updated based on the report or as an editable spreadsheet document.

Aaron Crear View All

Aaron is Founder & Principal at Hat-Trick Consulting. He works with companies around the world to help them achieve their Salesforce goals through administration, development and training services. A former sales director, Mr. Crear has extensive functional and technical expertise translating business requirements to technical solutions. Aaron currently holds eight Salesforce certifications including Salesforce Certified Data Architect, Sharing & Visibility Architect, Sales Cloud Consultant, Service Cloud Consultant, Community Cloud Consultant, Platform App Builder, User Experience Designer, Advanced Administrator and Administrator.

He is also the leader of the Lowell, MA Admins Community Group and is a co-organizer of Northeast Dreamin’. Mr. Crear is a frequent speaker, having presented at Dreamforce, Big Sky Dreamin’, Czech Dreamin’, dreamOle’, Florida Dreamin', French Touch Dreamin’, London's Calling, Midwest Dreamin’, North Africa Dreamin', Phillyforce, Snowforce, Southeast Dreamin’, True North Dreamin, YearLeadin’and Salesforce World Tours.

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