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Reports and Dashboards in Salesforce

Salesforce provides powerful reporting and generation tools on the data stored in the objects.

1. In reports data displayed is as per running user’s security access. Reports
can be run on both standard and custom objects. Reports are stored in
folders. Users with access to these folders can run the reports.

2. Reports data is always generated in real time. When a report is saved,
reports configuration parameters are stored – but the generated data is not

3. There are three type of reports
A. Tabular report. This is the most basic report. It displays just the row
of records in a table like format with grand total. Tabular reports
cannot be used for generating dashboards.
B. Summary report. This is the most commonly type of report. It allows
grouping of rows of data. It supports sorting and displaying
subtotals. For example in a recruiting app, a summary report could
be used to display open positions classified by department name.
C. Matrix report. This is the most complex report format. Matrix report
summarize information in a grid format. Matrix reports allows
records to be grouped by both columns and rows.
Summary and Matrix reports can be used to generate dashboards.

4. Reports provide two options of exporting data into Excel.
A. Printable View – Export report with formatting into Excel
B. Export Details – Export raw data

5. Reports present in public folders can be emailed to SaleForce users.

6. Report display upto 2000 rows of data. Larger reports can be emailed to

7. Generation of reports requires following steps.
A. Selection of object
B. Selection of report type
C. Select type of information to be displayed (example count, average)
D. For summary and matrix reports, specify how fields should be
E. Select columns on the report
F. Select column order on the report
G. Specify filtering criteria which should be used to select records

8. Custom reports let the developers define which all fields should be
available in a report. Custom report allows user to change field names.
Custom reports allow developers to select related fields (upto four levels).
The custom reports also allow developers to add sections to group fields.
Once a custom report is created it is available in reports tab and user may
create reports from it.

9. Object relationships that are supported by Custom Report Types are –
A. Include all records that have children
B. Include all records that may or may not have children
As an example consider a recruiting application with two custom objects
Position and InterviewFeedback. Also assume that InterviewFeedback is the
child of Position object. The first option above will display only those
Position objects that have at least one InterviewFeedback as their child.
The second option will display all Positions. It is not possible to display
Positions that do not have any InterviewFeedback using Salesforce’s
reporting mechanism.

10. There are three steps in creating custom reports –
A. Select an object, folder and report label.
B. Select related objects that need to be included.
C. Select fields available for report using a drag-and-drop layout editor.

11. Custom report types are available via the menu option Create–>Report

12. Analytical snapshot allows reports run at scheduled time to be stored as
objects. Analytical snapshots are used to perform trend analysis. As an
example if we want to view how monthly sales are growing, fields in a
report with sales figure can be stored in a custom object every month using
Analytical snapshot. Data in this custom object can then be used to
perform trend analysis.

13. Analytical snapshot are available from the Data Management menu option.
Source report in Analytical snapshot can be of the type Tabular or

14. Setup Analytical reports require a four step process
1. Select source report
2. Select custom object
3. Map source report fields to custom object fields
4. Schedule the frequency for taking the snapshots


15. Dashboards are graphical representation of reports. Dashboards can be
generated for summary or matrix reports (and not for tabular reports).
Dashboards display data as per last time report was run.

16. A dashboard can have upto 20 components

17. There are five type of dashboards

  • Chart Used for comparisons
  • Table Good for showing top five, bottom five lists.
  • Gauge Used to show progress towards a goal
  • Metric Shows a single number
  • VisualForce page used to pull data from other sources


18. Further there are six type of charts

  • Vertical column
  • Horizontal bar
  • Line
  • Donut
  • Funnel
  • Pie

Funnel is used to show proportion of values against each other. Pie is used
to demonstrate proportion of single value against total. Donut is used to
demonstrate proportion of single value against total and also show the
total value.

19. The folder in which dashboards are stored determines which user has
access to running the dashboard. The dashboard data is based upon the
reports data. When a user views the drill-down report for a dashboard
component. running user’s access permissions determine what data is
displayed on the drilldown report. Hence it is possible that the data in the
drill down report does not match the cummulative dashboard data.

20. Dashboard also support automatic refresh and email. The refresh and email
can also be scheduled at intervals – daily, weekly, monthly.
Limitations of Salesforce reports

21. Although fairly powerful, Salesforce reports have certain limitations. These
are explained below.
A. Support for trend analysis in Salesforce is fairly limited.
B. User Interface of Salesforce reports and dashboards is fixed.
Salesforce does not support pixel perfect report.
C. Salesforce reports do not support importing data from other sources
D. When displaying objects and their children, Salesforce does not
support repoting on objects that do not have any children.
E. If an object has two different related lists, then Salesforce reporting
does not support displaying both these related lists together.

22. To work-around these limitations, Salesforce customers have the following
three options.
A. Reporting as a service: Data resides on Salesforce. New Reports get
generated from same data source
B. BI as a service: Data is moved to a different destination on cloud.
Reporting is performed on this new data server.
C. Datawarehousing as a service: Data is exported to the customers
server and reports are generated from the server located at
customers location.

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