July 21, 2023

Custom Report Types In Salesforce

Learn what custom report type is in Salesforce. Explore its primary use cases, advanced features, and ways to eliminate common issues.

I. Introduction

Salesforce reporting is a crucial component of an admin’s work, and choosing the right report type is the first step in ensuring access to the necessary data. Numerous pre-built report kinds are included with Salesforce; these are usually based on one object, two related objects (like Accounts and Contacts), or relationships between objects (like Opportunities and Activities). Still, users may require more sophisticated reporting alternatives. That’s when custom report type comes in handy.

So, what are custom report types in Salesforce? When creating a report, they are frequently the best option if any of the following problems arise:

  • Standard report types are not available for the objects you seek.
  • A standard report type does not contain the fields you require.
  • You would like to change any field within a report's name without changing it throughout the entire Salesforce database.

One of the main advantages of custom report types is the ability to define up to four levels of related objects, which is not possible in standard reports. Also, users can generate reports that show data from an object regardless of whether it has a related record, such as Opportunities with or without Activities. Modifying field names or default fields is another benefit of Custom Report Types - making minor changes to formatting or field names makes the report more user-friendly.

II. Use Cases for Salesforce Custom Report Types

Analyzing Cross-Object Data

Easy access to valuable information is important for sales reps' productivity. Businesses can combine data from multiple objects, resulting in a more comprehensive understanding of their opportunities. For instance, a report that lists all open opportunities along with their associated contacts and accounts enables sales reps to identify key stakeholders within each opportunity, track their engagement, and tailor their communications to suit their needs and preferences.

Analyzing cross-object data delivers a more holistic view of the sales pipeline. By integrating associated contacts and accounts into their reports, businesses can identify patterns in their data and make more informed decisions on resource allocation. This, in turn, improves forecasting and sales projections.

Simplifying Complex Data Structures

As businesses grow, their data structures become more complex. Custom report types are particularly useful when dealing with complex relationships between objects, which can be challenging to navigate with standard reports. For instance, let’s review a junction object - a custom object in Salesforce that allows you to create a many-to-many relationship between two objects and view related data from different objects in a single report. This eliminates the need for multiple reports and creates a more centralized and user-friendly report structure.

Creating custom junction objects is a straightforward process:

  • decide on the objects that need to be connected;
  • create a new custom object and add fields to it that are relevant to the relationship;
  • create lookup relationships between the new custom object and the two original objects.

Enhancing User Experience

Custom report types benefits go beyond just creating custom reports – they can be utilized to design customized dashboards essential for businesses that want to stay on top of their data and monitor their progress. They provide a quick way to access information and can be customized to fit the user's specific needs. The process is simple and easy to use, and the results are powerful.

To create custom dashboards, users can select which data sources they want to include in their reports. They can also choose data points and ways to display them. This process enables users to create real-time dashboards that are always up-to-date with the latest data. Users don't need to purchase expensive dashboard software or rely on outside consultants to create customized dashboards. Instead, they can create them in-house, quickly and effortlessly.

III. Advanced Features and Customizations

To manipulate and display data in ways that go beyond standard Salesforce reports, you need to consider three vital features.

Formula Fields

Formula fields allow users to create calculated fields that perform mathematical operations, evaluate text, or perform complex logic functions necessary to aggregate and summarize data, calculate percentages, or apply conditional logic based on specific criteria. Users can create custom formulas and apply them to report columns, groupings, or filters.

So, how to use them?

  1. Create a new custom report type and select the appropriate object for the report.
  2. Navigate to the "Fields" tab, where you will find an option to "Add Formula Field." Click on it to begin configuring your formula field.
  3. Next, choose a unique name for the formula field and select the data type you want to use. You can choose from a wide range of data types, including numbers, dates, text, and more.
  4. Once you have selected the data type, you can start building your formula using a wide range of functions, including basic arithmetic operations, mathematical functions, logical functions, and more. You can also include custom fields, variables, and other factors.
  5. Save your formula field and use it in your Custom Report Type. Your formula field will be included in the report's available fields list, making it easy to add to your report layout.

Bucket Fields

Bucket fields help group and sort data based on specific criteria, like ranges of values, date ranges, or categorical data. Grouping data into relevant categories simplifies its analysis and further report creation. Users can create custom summaries or apply conditional logic based on the bucket values.

  1. Click on the "Reports" tab and select "New Report."
  2. Choose the report type you want to use and click on "Create."
  3. Go to "Fields" and select the field you want to use.
  4. Click on the drop-down arrow next to the field name and select "Create Bucket Field."
  5. Choose the type of Bucket Field you want to create, such as range or category.
  6. Define the ranges or categories and assign appropriate labels.
  7. Click "Save," and the report will now include the Bucket Field.

Filters and Scope

Filters and scope are two powerful features to control the data that appears in reports: conditions or criteria filter out unwanted data, while scope specifies the level of detail, such as grouping by month, quarter, or year. Using these two features in combination results in highly customized reports with in-depth data analysis.

  1. Select the Custom Report Type for which you want to apply filters.
  2. Find the Filters section and click on "Edit." This will open a new window where you can add filters to your report.
  3. Select the field that you want to filter. For example, if you want to filter by region, select the "Region" field.
  4. Choose an operator which defines how the filter will work. For example, if you select "Contains" as the operator, the filter will return all records that contain the word or phrase you enter.
  5. Enter a value to filter on. This will be the specific criteria that you want to use to narrow down your results. For example, if you need to filter by the region of "West Coast," you would enter "West Coast" as the value.
  6. Click "Run Report," and your report will be generated based on your selected criteria.

The filtered data can be further analyzed by creating charts, summaries, and dashboards to extract valuable insights. You can add multiple filters to your report, tailoring each to suit your needs.

IV. Best Practices for Custom Report Types in Salesforce

When you're ready to devise your report, we advise considering the report's final objective. What do you hope the report will illustrate? Which information would you like to add? It is also useful to review the Custom Objects and Fields list since it shows you which Fields are associated with Custom Objects.

We also have some tips for teams to achieve the best end result.

  • While it can be tempting to create complex reports covering a wide range of data points, doing so can actually hinder their usefulness. Instead, businesses should aim to create CRTs that are targeted and narrowly defined, so that they provide specific insights that are truly actionable.
  • Salesforce data can change quickly, so it's important to make sure that reports are accurate and up-to-date. Regular reviews can help teams catch any errors or discrepancies that might crop up, as well as identify opportunities for improvements or optimizations.
  • Collaboration with stakeholders is key. This includes working closely with various teams across the organization to identify the specific metrics and data points most relevant to them. By involving stakeholders in the design process you ensure the outcome will be useful and meaningful for the people who need them most.

V. Limitations and Considerations

When creating complex CRTs, consider the performance implications associated with them. This is particularly relevant when dealing with large datasets that can slow down the system. It is best to keep report types simple and avoid building report queries that require multiple joins and complicated filters. This way report results are generated efficiently and quickly, without slowing down the performance of your Salesforce org.

Custom report types consume system resources and can have a significant impact on all users of the platform. Therefore, businesses need to ensure that they are not overused. Admins can set limits on the number of reports that can be generated and manage access to reports to guarantee the resources used by report types are kept under control.

Lastly, large data volumes can create performance issues, leading to slow report generation and potential system crashes. It is, therefore, essential to limit the amount of data included in custom reports. This can be achieved by using filters and ensuring that the report types are designed to query the data as efficiently as possible.

VI. Troubleshooting and Common Issues

One of the common issues is report type errors that can hinder data analysis and the decision-making process. The errors may arise when fields are added, removed, or customized in a Salesforce object, thus impacting the data model and resulting in inaccurate reports. Consider running the custom report type and checking for any inconsistencies or errors in the report data. Users can utilize the "Fields" option on the report builder to compare the fields in the custom report type to the actual Salesforce object fields - any discrepancies between the two may signal an issue that needs immediate attention.

Handling data discrepancies in Salesforce custom report types is critical to ensure data accuracy and consistency across the organization's different systems. Data discrepancies can occur due to various reasons: updates to data sources, inaccuracies in data entry, defects in the data integration process, etc. Handling them requires a thorough analysis of the data source, data mappings, and system log files to identify the source of the error. The next step is to develop a plan to correct the data in the affected records or objects.

Salesforce custom report types provide a range of functionality that supports corrective action to be taken right within the report:

  • the row-level link enables users to navigate to the affected record or object to rectify any errors within the data;
  • custom report types can be configured to show only records or objects that have discrepancies, making it easier to quickly identify and rectify any issues;
  • data can be exported from the system for offline processing if the errors are too complex to be corrected in the platform's interface.

Using Salesforce Community extends reporting capabilities to external users, such as customers, partners, and suppliers. The community forms a secure and personalized space where users can interact with the company and access valuable information. It enhances engagement and aligns customer expectations with company goals. A key benefit of using the Salesforce community for support with custom report types is the ability to monitor and manage data usage. With this feature, businesses can define the data accessed by their external users and monitor usage trends. This helps to ensure data privacy and security, while also allowing businesses to tailor their data offerings to user needs.

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