5 simple steps to reports and dashboards

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To track and improve business performance, you need reports that show trends as well as real-time dashboards for up-to-the minute information about your business. Salesforce CRM makes it easy to create both.
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    Reports and dashboards show how you performed in the past and what’s happening at the moment—they’re key to driving success and adoption for any CRM project. The information provided by reports anddashboards is especially important in today’s environment, where it’s critical to be proactive, rather thanreactive, in your approach. You want to be able to spot trends and act on them immediately.For example, a sales organization wants to know which deals were lost, which competitors are gainingground, and whether the average time to close is increasing or decreasing.For a customer service organization, it’s important to track the averagedays or time to close and satisfaction. And marketing organizations wantto track campaign effectiveness and ROI.To make the most of Salesforce CRM’s reporting capabilities, it’simportant to plan carefully and then follow these 5 proven steps to makingreports and dashboards part of   your  business process:1.   Know what keeps your executives up at night2.   Capture the right data3.   Build your reports4.   Build your dashboards5.   Use data to change behavior and drive results Step #1: Know what keeps your executives up at night Finding answers to critical business questions and making good decisions is vital to executives—and totheir companies’ success and competitive position:    Ask questions and start at the top – When designing reports and dashboards, first define what yourexecutives—your CEO; the VPs of Sales, Marketing, Support; and your channels—need to know to runtheir business. What are their key metrics? What behaviors do they want to encourage?    Align metrics   with your company vision – Take your business objectives, determine the metrics thatmeasure those objectives, and map those metrics to the capabilities of Salesforce CRM. For example, if forecasting and tracking large deals are important to the VP of Sales, make sure you understand the keydata points that give insight into those tasks and the best frequency for reporting that data. Or if your VPof Marketing needs to track response rates, sales, trials, meetings, or campaign awareness, you need tocapture that data at the campaign, campaign member, lead, and opportunity level to return meaningfulmetrics. Tip: Salespeople thrive on competition. If you make it possible to track their progress in relation to theirpeers, your overall adoption rates will go up. Abstract To track and improve business performance,you need reports that show trends as well asreal-time dashboards for up-to-the minuteinformation about your business. SalesforceCRM makes it easy to create both. By Leahanne Merritt 5 simple steps to reports and dashboards  5 simple steps to reports and dashboardsBEST PRACTICE 2 Step #2: Capture the right data Your reports and dashboards are only as good as the data behind them—planning is the key to capturingand displaying the correct metrics. Identify your sources early. Consider working backwards: plan yourreports first and then configure the application by adding custom fields, formulas, and so on.If your marketing team wants to see campaign effectiveness over time, for example, you’d want to track which campaigns lead to leads, opportunities, and closed/won deals. Every week, you could use snapshotreports on lead status by campaign and opportunity status by campaign to show how many leads andopportunities were received and converted from each campaign.    Manage what you measure – Pick a limited number of key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics. Athird-party survey of the number of metrics used by CEOs showed that 52 percent use 5–10 metrics tomanage their entire business.    Limit the number of reports/dashboards – Focus on those tied to specific business objectives.    Develop a clear, concise naming strategy – That approach will make report and dashboard folders easyto find. Use labels that are meaningful to your users; for example “MW Sales Team,” “Premier/GoldSupport Analysts,” or “Converted Leads for Verticals Team.” For dashboard folders, start with the word“Dashboard” (Dashboard – MW Sales Team,” “Dashboard – Premier/Gold Support Analysts”).    Determine security and access for the report and dashboard folders and give users access based on their job functions or roles. Step #3: Build your reports Most customers start with a current report tracked in Excel or Access and use it as a baseline. As you beginto build reports in Salesforce CRM, there are several resources to help you get started.    Start with out-of the-box reports . Salesforce.com offers standard reports across all standard objects.You can use these reports as the basis for your custom reports.    Understand the three different report types and how they’re used: ã   Tabular reports are the simplest and fastest way to return your data in a simple list view format.Keep in mind that tabular reports can’t be used to create dashboard components. ã   Summary reports return your data with subtotals and other summary-level information.Summary reports are great for showing average dollar values for closed won opportunities bysalesperson or number of cases by status by support representative . ã   Matrix reports show data summaries against both horizontal and vertical criteria; for example, total sales per sales rep per year by quarter  .    Bookmark the Analytics blog on the Salesforce.com Community Web site. Check back on a regular basis (especially prior to each release) for tips, tricks, and use cases for new analytics features and productenhancements. Step #4: Build your dashboards When you finish planning after asking all the right questions and building your reports, you’re ready tobuild your dashboards. The key to building dashboards your VPs, managers, and users can’t live without isto match the dashboard metrics to a compelling business metric.    Understand the different dashboard formats and what type of data is best displayed in each format: ã   Horizontal bar/vertical column charts are great for showing geographical data, stage or statusinformation, or any data that’s part of a single grouping.  5 simple steps to reports and dashboards For More Information Contact your account executive to learnhow we can help you accelerate yourCRM success. ã   Pie and donut charts are useful for displaying data that shows proportions of a total, such as thenumber of leads by lead source. ã   One of the newest chart types, the funnel , is best used for showing ordered picklists such as opportunity stage , case status , or lead stage .For more information, go to Help & Training and search on chart types.    Don’t reinvent the wheel! Go to the AppExchange, download the free, pre-built dashboards—such as theLead and Opportunity Management dashboard—created by Force.com Labs,and customize them to meet your business needs. Use these dashboards to track and measure adoption, sales productivity, campaigns,lead generation, and service and support. Step #5: Use data to drive behavior and produce results Reports and dashboards are designed to be iterative—it’s important to keep them current and relevant. Tosuccessfully roll out business metrics, good communication is key. Make it easy for your users to find,view, and access the dashboards relevant to them. Use the schedule refresh feature to ensure your users seethe most recent data. And use schedule and email reports and dashboards to remind your users that theirbusiness-critical metrics are in Salesforce CRM.    Manage from the top down – Encourage managers to run forecast calls directly from their dashboards.Many customers also have the following mandate for sales: “If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.”This directive proves to be extremely motivating for salespeople.    Include adoption and data quality metrics – Include a dashboard component that tracks faulty data,such as all accounts without an industry, contacts without valid email addresses, or leads with a status of “qualified” that haven’t been converted. Again, publishing such metrics can be extremely motivating.    Engage your user community – Don’t make the mistake of tracking such metrics only at the executivelevel—make sure your users see the same metrics on their personal dashboards. What do your users wantto see? What will help them do their jobs faster and smarter? Those are the metrics that matter. Forexample, you could create reports and dashboards that rank salespeople by top deal or top salespeopleper quarter. BP_5steps2reports-dashboards_2010-06-08  
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