Tip #1- Know Your Users
Different Users Require Different Reports
Salespeople need reports to help manage their customers. Sales Managers need reports to manage their Salespeople. Many administrators will simply clone similar reports for different users without considering the goals of the actual user.
Be Aware How Users Access Reports
Many users now access reports on mobile devices where the visible portion of a report is much smaller than on a computer screen. Consider creating a secondary set of reports called ‘XYZ Report - Mobile Device Version’ which show fewer columns of information than the standard ‘XYZ Report’.
Tip #2- Each Report Should Drive a Specific Action
Name Reports in Active Tense
Naming a report ‘NOT REPURCHASED THIS YEAR’ is more effective than simply calling it a ‘Customer Sales Report’. It draws your users to the report and clearly communicates the purpose of the report. Similarly, ‘MULTIPLE OFFICE VISITS BUT ZERO SALES YTD’ is more effective and actionable than ‘Notes on Accounts’.
Focus on One or Two Key Metrics per Report
Administrators sometimes attempt to fill reports with a dozen or more columns of data. This makes the report unwieldy and confusing. Decide what the specific focus of a report should be and create it with this goal in mind.
Ensure the Report Drives the Desired Action
When the salesperson runs the ‘NOT REPURCHASED THIS YEAR’ report, the desired action should be obvious- a list of accounts to immediately go and see. A report like this should provide the information the salesperson needs such as the name, address, telephone number, fax, etc. Providing the report with only an account name makes it difficult for the user to immediately take action, as they will have to find the missing data in some other report.
Tip #3- Use Transaction Data in Reports Wherever Possible
Transaction Data vs. User Entered Data
Most Salesforce reports are built on information which is updated by the user. Notes and Opportunities are examples of ‘user entered data’. This ‘user entered data’ is always subject to errors, omissions, and sometimes deliberate misinformation. Any data which can be used in a report that is based on a verified transaction is more reliable.
Invoices are not the Only Type of Transaction Data
Many companies now track salespeople’s mileage using a mobile app that automatically notes every address location they stop their vehicle at. This type of transaction data can be matched to the address on a Salesforce record to tag a vehicle stop as ‘an office visit’, and is much more reliable than hoping the salesperson makes a manual note of every prospect visit.
Tip #4- Organize Reports into Relevant Folders
Follow a Predefined Naming Convention for Report Folders
Prioritize the order of report folders by putting a number in front of the folder name such as ‘1.1 Daily Sales Reports, 1.2 Daily Support Reports’ etc. You can always reorganize the folder by changing the numbers, whereas the default is that the report folders show in alphabetical order by folder name.
Create a Folder for Customizing reports
If the reports you create for users are read-only, create a specific folder which contains reports that users have read-write permissions to. This confines the users to modifying only reports within this folder as opposed to making changes to reports in other folders which are widely used by others and may contain complex filters you don’t want changed.
Be Careful with Filters
Administrators will frequently create reports using filters or multiple filters which present only partial data, but may not mention this in the report name or description. Ensure that if you use filters on a report, the user is aware of exactly what the filter means and how that may limit or skew the information in the report they run.
Create a Group of Report Power Users
In any large group of Salesforce users, there are many highly technical users who can learn to create advanced and customized reports for themselves as well as teach their counterparts. Training specific users to instruct others in report building helps to keep the reports accurate and clean.
Tip #5- Less is More
Limit the Number of Reports in Folder
Control the number of reports that are in each folder, especially if reports tend to proliferate. Folders containing dozens or hundreds of reports are difficult to navigate. As the number of reports in a folder grows, create new folders to move certain reports into. Keep reports in each folder confined to a specific topic.
Purge Old and Unused Reports
It is fast and easy to create Salesforce reports. But this often results in hundreds of report folders and thousands of reports. Frequently reports are created around specific users who are no longer with the company. Ensure there is a regular process to remove old reports and report folders which have become redundant or out of date, or at the very least, move older reports and report folders to the bottom of the list by numbering the folders.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. Examples cited in this article are only examples. Salesforce®, Salesforce1 Mobile App™, AppExchange® are trademarks of salesforce.com, inc.
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