Salesforce's Reporting Challenges and How to Solve Them

February 28, 2019

Salesforce has one of the most robust reporting engines with virtually unlimited reporting capabilities. So why do so many of us struggle to find the information we need from reports in Salesforce?

Quantity Does Not Equal Quality

It will come as no surprise to you that in every company there are an endless number of questions that need answering, and those questions are often answered with a one-off report. Unfortunately, this often leads to a surplus of reports that don’t give you all the data that you need to get focused, actionable insights.

In Salesforce specifically, this surplus of reports can become incredibly cumbersome over time as definitions for customers, leads, and other data points change. Whenever a definition changes, your analyst must dive back into every related saved report in Salesforce to update the data logic. Combine this lengthy process with the number of one-off, saved reports you likely have in your Salesforce instance and you end up with an analyst who is spending enormous amounts of time just keeping your data clean.

In fact, a Harvard Business Review study found that on average, data analysts are spending 80% of their time completing this preparation work which means they aren’t able to spend very much time actually focusing on their area of expertise: interpreting your data to identify growth levers.  

You Need Agreement on Key Metric Definitions

Have you ever been in a meeting where your sales and marketing leaders are at odds over a leads metric? Most everyone has because defining your data is difficult. This lack of common language for key metrics leads to misalignment and missed goals.

Depending on how your Salesforce instance is configured, this can be an enormous problem. It’s not uncommon for 3 different people to generate 3 different reports for the same question in Salesforce, and if your teams aren’t aligned to a single set of information, it can lead to dramatic difference in KPI measurements. This is why coming to a consensus on your key metric definitions, and where to access them, is critical to measuring performance.

Biggest Problem? Lack of data strategy

While overindulging in the reporting features in Salesforce and inconsistent key metric definitions have an impact on how effective your reporting works for you, the majority of the time the real problem is a lack of data strategy.

Creating a solid data strategy

The goal of a data strategy is to create a report that builds a single source of truth for your reporting needs. You can save time by not re-creating reports and removing duplicate reports. A data strategy gives you clear guidelines for creating datasets so you always know what you need to find in terms of Salesforce and other data collection tools.

One of the most valuable parts of creating a data strategy is the opportunity to bring everyone together to define what information is most important. Throughout the process you will work together to create definitions, road maps, and objectives that lead to that single source of truth. By identifying these you can use your data to construct a clear vision of progress towards your goals. The data strategy allows you to focus in on the most important data, avoiding irrelevant informations and reports.

Here are four steps to create your data strategy and build your single source of truth:

Rounding up the key players for your ultimate KPI report is always the first step.

1. Round up your key players

You will want to gather folks across your organization to determine what their KPIs are and how they need to measure them.

Each department will have different insights and needs in terms of what data is most important to them, which is why you need someone from each department to ensure that you have all the right input on metric definitions.

determine the metrics that you want to measure.

2. Determine your metrics

The most important part of creating a solid data strategy is determining what metrics to use in order to measure company KPIs. What do you really want to measure? What information is most important to each department? You can have thousands of possible reports, but what information do you actually need?

Working with the folks you gathered across your organization, you can determine what data they must use in order to measure their performance. You can follow the steps in our guide, 5 Steps to Building the Ultimate KPI Report, to walk you through this information collection process.

After you know what metrics you're going to need to measure, you need to discover where all of that data lives.

3. Map your report

After working with your team to create your KPI’s, you can can begin mapping the report. Where will you get the data from? In addition to your CRM, what others sources of data have critical information you need? Make a list all the locations that you need to obtain data from, as well as a list of the specific reports that are necessary to build your single source of truth.  

Your team needs to align to a single source of truth.

4. Build your single source of truth

Once you have mapped your report to identify where you will be pulling the data from, you can create a customized KPI report. Ideally, this report with have all of the data required to measure the everything associated with either departmental data or a specific data point such as leads.

Get Your Data Used

Throughout your org, you’re likely going to have folks that are always a little skeptical of your data. That’s why you’ll want to be sure that you employ a variety of techniques to keep your data clean. One of the most effective strategies is using a Salesforce QA dashboard or report which flags data when it doesn’t meet a certain set of criteria. You can learn more about avoiding dirty data by checking out our Defeating Dirty Data ebook.

You’ll also want to make sure that your data is easily accessible to everyone so it stays top-of-mind. One of the best ways to ensure that people across your company can access and interpret the data is by providing a visual dashboard. Although dashboards can be difficult to build in Salesforce, working with a BI (business intelligence) platform like Grow allows you to quickly create visualizations based on your KPI report.  

Want to learn more about creating your data strategy? Check out our webinar, Messy to Managed: Building a  Data Strategy for Your Salesforce Instance.

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