Salesforce Analytics Spring ’12 Release – A Business Analyst’s Wish Granted…..Almost
Let’s just be up front about this. I’ve been waiting four years for sibling reporting – or as Salesforce calls it, “Joined Reports”. I frequently have had the need to report on two objects that are not related, however, share the same parent. I have wished for years that there was a native reporting feature in Salesforce that would help me with this and now there is!
The new Spring ’12 Analytics release includes a new report format named Joined Reports. The Joined Report format lets you combine multiple views or block of related information into a single report. You can create a report with up to five report “blocks”. These blocks can be different report types if they have a relationship with the same object and / or they can be the same report type with different filter criteria.
BIG TIP: Understand Your Filters. Always check and understand all the filters of each report block you are using in your report. If any of your report filters are not aligned with the report results you are trying to achieve you will get skewed data and / or some of the customize report features will appear to not work correctly.
I can think of many use cases for joined reports. A couple of examples are 1) Managers can build scorecards to monitor their teams and 2) Account Owners can get a 360-degree view of account activity. When I heard about Joined Reports format I was excited and immediately logged into my dev org to play around. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to create a report that would show me all my Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities and Cases grouped by Account in one report view (pictured below).
However if you look closely, there are a few things missing in this picture above. Like the Printable View Button, the Export Details Button and the drop down for Schedule Future Runs. When I first saw this, I immediately thought I must be missing something. I thought, “All this hubbub about the new Salesforce Analytics release and you can’t even print the report?” I immediately researched this issue and found it is true that you can’t print, export or schedule these type reports. There are already some ideas posted on the Idea Exchange in regards to the print and export feature for joined reports. Please help all Salesforce.com Report Users by voting for two these ideas posted on the Idea Exchange by clicking here
In addition to the absence of the print, export and schedule features of the joined report format, there are a host of other features that are not currently available with this report type format that are available with most others. I guess this is a good example of Be Careful Of What You Wish For. Next time I’ll be wishing more specifically.
The second report feature Salesforce rolled out is Cross Filters. Cross Filters filter a report using WITH or WITHOUT conditions. You can filter on all eligible child objects of your selected parent object. In addition, you can create sub-filters on the child object selected in the cross filter. Previous to this release, these report conditions could be achieved if the Saleforce.com System Admin created a custom report type; however, this new format is so much more convenient. It gives the average user a more powerful tool to create the reports they need to manage their business without the assistance of the Admin and the creation of multiple custom report types.
I have, in the past, created many custom report types to achieve the cross filter condition. I can think of many ways to use cross filters to help analyze data. A couple of examples Salesforce gives are 1) Sales and support managers can spot opportunities and cases without activities. 2) Sales reps can identify selling opportunities with accounts without particular products. See picture below a report created using a cross filter detailing Accounts Without Opportunities.
Better than a buttered biscuit, Salesforce released a Data Bucketing feature in Salesforce, too. Data Bucketing allows you to quickly categorize report records without creating a formula or custom field. Bucket fields can be used like any other fields to sort, filter and group your report. There are only a few types of fields that can’t be bucketed. You can bucket numeric, picklist and text fields. Bucket fields can be used like any other field to sort, filter and group your report. The difference is once you create a bucket field in a report, the field is only available in that report. This means if you want to use the same bucket field criteria in another report you need to recreate it in that report.
Sales managers can bucket or group activities by size based on amount and support managers can age cases based on days opened. Sales reps can group accounts into strategic accounts with bucketing. I can think of a good use of data bucketing for one of my clients. They have an odd assortment of Industry types in their picklist selected in the Industry field on their Account records. They could use buckets to group similar industries for reporting and analysis purposes. In the report below, there are over 30 different Industries represented in just four buckets and then grouped by those four buckets.
The Dashboard enhancements included a lot of nice usability enhancements. My favorite functional Dashboard enhancement released is the additional fields and operators for Filtered Dashboards. You can now create up to 3 filters per Dashboard and you can filter on more fields including date, date / time, and currency fields. In addition, you can filter using additional filter operators including Not equal to, Less than, Greater than, Less than or equal, Great or equal, Contains, Does not contain, Start with, Includes and Excludes and Between.
Again, refer back to my BIG TIP at the beginning of this blog. It is very important you understand the filters you create for your dashboard. The dashboard filters filter ALL the chart results on your dashboard. You will need to make sure your filters are applicable to all the charts on your dashboard or some of your charts may return skewed or incorrect data. Also, the “Between” operator does not work as you would expect. The between operator gets results that are greater than or equal to a minimum value and less than a maximum value. For example, if you enter a date range where you want to look at the month of May, you will need to enter between 5/1/2012 and 6/1/2012. This will return results for May 1st through May 31st. If you set the criteria to between 5/1/2012 and 5/31/2012, you will only return results for May 1st through May 30th and you will miss a day of data. This rule holds true for numeric values too.
There were some Additional Analytics enhancements which, again, included some nice userability features. My favorite of these enhancements were the Drag-and-Drop Report Filters and the Deleting Report Filters with Filter Logic. With the Drag-and-Drop filters you save a lot of clicks and time when creating a report because you can just drag a filter field from your list of fields into the filter box and then enter your filter criteria. This saves the monotonous activity of first clicking the “Add Filter” button and then searching for and selecting the field you want to filter on. The Deleting Report Filters with Filter Logic saves a lot of time when you need to edit a report with a lot of advanced filter logic built in. When a filter is deleted, the remaining filter fields are automatically renumbered for you. You no longer need to adjust all the filter field alignment one by one. You do, however, need to recreate your filter logic because this gets erased and set back to a standard “AND” statement.
I hope this blog has helped you understand some of the “ins and outs” of the new Analytics features. For more detailed instructions on how to use these new features, please click here
for a Salesforce.com Spring ’12 Analytics Training Demo.
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