How to Build Effective Salesforce Reports & Dashboards

According to Forbes, data analytics can provide a wealth of benefits for your organization. By leveraging the power of data analytics, you can improve customer retention, identify potential risks, and much more. However, you cannot conduct data analysis until you generate Salesforce reports or select a solution to report on Salesforce data outside of the Salesforce native report writer.
Clear blue sky with white clouds filling half of the sky.

Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. The truth of the matter is that generating Salesforce reports can be quite tedious, especially if you are relatively new to the platform.

To help, we have created this comprehensive guide to Salesforce reporting. In it, we break down report types and functions. Our team even discusses some notable shortcomings in Salesforce’s reporting functionality and reveals how you can streamline your data.

Difference between Salesforce Reports & Dashboards

Before we delve into the various Salesforce report types, let’s recap the difference between reports and dashboards.

Generally speaking, a report is simply a list of data points or records that are compiled based on criteria that you define. In Salesforce, your reports will be displayed in columns and rows. You can refine reports by filtering them or grouping them with other data sets.

Each Salesforce report is stored in a specific folder. You can control who can access these reports by setting custom permissions. Reports can be made public, shared, or left hidden.

Whereas Salesforce reports are displayed in columns and rows, the dashboard is a visual display of this data. Each component on the dashboard displays data from a single report. No component will display data from multiple reports.

However, you can view a Salesforce report with multiple dashboarding tools. For instance, you can convert report data into a pie chart and bar chart.

The Salesforce dashboard is highly customizable. You can incorporate multiple dashboard tools onto your page. This flexibility allows you to rapidly digest the information from numerous Salesforce reports that contain related data.

Graphic of reports on a computer screen

What are Reports in Salesforce? 4 Types to Know

Salesforce reports allow you to easily and efficiently understand data within your system. You can use this data to inform business decisions and improve customer relations.

There are four types of reports available via Salesforce. Each style of report is designed for specific data review purposes. Some reports only provide a brief overview of certain data, while others offer more in-depth insights.

The 4 Salesforce report types are as follows:

Summary – Common & Popular

Salesforce Summary Reports are among the most basic and frequently used types of reports. You can generate a summary report to show multiple groups of data.

When generating a summary report, you can group data from different accounts. Then, your staff can perform calculations to determine metrics such as average sales, minimum purchase amounts, total revenue generated, etc.

Summary reports are a great way of determining which services or products are most popular among your clients. You can also use summary reports to figure out which accounts are generating a large amount of revenue.

Tabular – Simplest & Fast Export Format

Tabular reports are extremely simple and are primarily used to prepare data for exporting. When you generate a Salesforce tabular report, your data will be displayed in rows. Tabular reports should not be used if you plan to manipulate or interact with the data.

Tabular reports are a great tool when you need to complete tasks such as exporting a mailing list. The recipient of the report can easily locate the required information, which may include client names and email addresses. Tabular reports are also supported in Salesforce dashboards.

Matrix: Most Complicated; Great for Large Datasets

Salesforce Matrix Reports are one of the most complicated types of reports available on the platform. Setting up matrix report generation is very time-consuming as well because you have the ability to group data by columns and rows. Matrix reports, like summary and tabular reports, can be used with dashboard tools.

The matrix reporting format is a good choice when you need to review data like the number of products sold or revenue totals. Once the report is generated, you can quickly skim through it to find the desired information.

Joined Reports – Comparing Datasets

As the name implies, Salesforce’s Joined Reports feature allows you to create two distinct reports and “join” the data. The data from each report will be displayed side by side so that you can compare the two sets of information.
While most users only generate two reports using the Joined Reports feature, you can actually add as many as five different blocks. This feature can help you gain valuable insights into a particular account.

Joined Reports are the only type of Salesforce reports that are not compatible with dashboarding tools. This incompatibility is because a dashboard component can only display information from a single report.

Since many companies prefer to view data in a visual format, the Joined Reports function is one of the least frequently used types of Salesforce reporting tools.

How do I Create a Report in Salesforce? (Step-by-Step)

Now that we have finished reviewing the various report types let’s cover how to generate a report in Salesforce.
When you are ready to create your Salesforce report, select the Salesforce Report Builder. The Builder can be found under the “Reports” tab, which is located on the top toolbar. After you have opened the Salesforce Report Builder, select “New Report.”

  1. You will then be prompted to choose your report type and category. When creating your first Salesforce report, you may want to keep it simple and generate a summary report.
  2. If you already know what type of report you want to create, query that phrase using the search bar at the top of the new window. Otherwise, scroll through the list of available options until you find the category you are looking for.
  3. Next, click on the “Filters” tab and select which filters you want to apply. After that, you will need to transition to the “Outline” tab. On this tab, you can choose which fields will be displayed in your Salesforce report. Finally, click “Save & Run,” which will populate your report.
  4. You will need to name the report and can also include a brief description. Save the report in the folder of your choice and adjust the permissions if you want to restrict who can view the file.

The above process is used anytime that you want to generate a Salesforce report. When creating Matrix Reports, you will have to complete a few additional steps when selecting your filters and outline.

How to Integrate Salesforce Data into Tableau Analytics and Reports

On their own, Salesforce reporting tools can provide some valuable information about the health of your organization. However, if you want to perform true data analysis, then you will need to integrate your Salesforce data into a full analytics application like Tableau. Tableau gives you the power to explore your data, create digestible reports, and much more.

There are two ways to integrate your Salesforce data into Tableau. You can either use the native Salesforce connector or CapStorm’s Tableau integrations solution.

The Salesforce native solution can be deployed rapidly, which allows you to start integrating your data into Tableau right away. However, this integration does have its shortcomings, which we will discuss below.

CapStorm’s solution unlocks the full potential of Salesforce data. Our integration allows you to do more with your data by eliminating query restrictions and data join limitations. We accomplish this by enabling incremental replication of your data from Salesforce to your very own data repository in near-real time.

How to Build Advanced Reports with Salesforce Data

While you may have considered foregoing a full analytics integration like Tableau and simply relying on Salesforce’s native reporting, this approach will not make the most out of your data. Salesforce’s reporting tools have numerous limitations.

For starters, you cannot create a chart with more than 250 groups or 4,000 values. There are also display issues when generating a report with more than 2,000 rows. Another concern is that reports “time out” after just 10 minutes.

CapStorm overcomes these shortcomings by getting your data into a relational database management system (RDBMS). Database management systems that utilize a relational data model organize and access your data by assessing the relationships between various items. This feature creates what is known as data independence.

What does this mean for your organization? Essentially, we are unshackling your data from the constraints of native Salesforce reporting. This approach allows you to use any reporting engine you want without limitations…

Break Free from Salesforce Reporting Limitations

The Salesforce CRM platform is one of the most dynamic solutions on the market today. However, its inherent reporting limitations can prevent your organization from leveraging valuable data to gain key business insights.

With the help of CapStorm, you can break free from these limitations and gain access to near-real-time data insights. CapStorm enables Salesforce data autonomy, thereby bringing better data and Salesforce reporting into your analytics system(s). Our experts will eliminate data join limitations and query restrictions, allowing you to gain data insights in near-real time in Tableau.

If you are ready to take your data analytics and your business to the next level, contact CapStorm today. We invite you to schedule a demo and see our innovative solutions for yourself.

Rebecca Gray

Rebecca Gray

Rebecca is 5 year Salesforce fanatic and certified Salesforce Admin, Service Cloud Consultant, Sales Cloud Consultant, and App Builder. She volunteers in the Salesforce community, leading the Saint Louis, MO Salesforce Admin Group and is a former Lightning Champion. In her day job, Rebecca supports Customer Success, helping CapStorm customers achieve their goals for Salesforce data management.

About CapStorm

CapStorm is the most technologically advanced Salesforce data management platform on the market. Billions of records per day flow through CapStorm software, and our solutions are used in every industry from credit cards, telecom providers, insurance agencies, global banks and energy providers.

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