Understanding Reports and Dashboards



Reports and dashboards allow your firm to visualize specific records that meet specified criteria. Unlike many of our other features, the reports and dashboards functionality within Practifi is an entirely standard Salesforce tool. This means that options for customizations or configurations from its main capabilities are limited. This article covers the general features of both reports and dashboards while outlining considerations around using this functionality. For more information on generating these records, please consult our Creating Reports and Creating Dashboards articles. 


What Is a Report?

In its simplest form, a report is a list of records that meet the criteria you define. The list of records the report returns can be filtered or grouped for organization and ease of viewing. 

Every report is stored in a folder set to be public, hidden or shared. These report folders determine how reports are accessed and who can access them to view, edit, or manage them. The folder's contents can be accessed based on roles, permissions, public groups, divisions and license types. 

Report Types

A report type is like a template that makes reporting easier. The report type determines which fields and records are automatically available when generating the reports. The information generated within the report is based on the relationships between the specified primary object and any additional potentially related object. For example, with the report type of 'Contacts & Entities,' the primary object is the Contact object, and Entities is the related object. Therefore, records pulled into this report will be related to both the Contact and Entity objects. 

Reports will only display records that meet the criteria defined in the report type. Practifi provides a set of predefined standard report types, including Salesforce standard report types.  If you cannot view a field within the report types provided by Practifi, you may require a custom report type. Custom report types may have more complex layers than new mixes of data objects and include additional fields for use. Due to this complexity, if your team encounters a situation where a custom report type may be needed, we recommend contacting your CSM to review if there may be an easier option to achieve the functionality. If there is no easier method, your CSM can help set the process in motion to work on a custom project with our Professional Services team.

Report Functionality 

When creating a report the main functionality available is filtering, narrowing the results to a specific set of records. Once the correct set of records is returned, adding a chart element allows the option to present this information visually within the report. In addition, reports support editing functionality after initial creation to change the filtering criteria or the fields displayed within the report body. 

Many teams find that they have a few team members who prefer to review their data within Excel, add filters or chart their data in ways not available within the standard Salesforce reporting feature. To help provide more freedom for these users, reports support the functionality of exporting the results into a file to be opened within Excel. 

For users who would like to reference a report frequently, the functionality to subscribe to a report is also supported. Subscribing to a report means the subscriber will get regular updates to review the report sent directly to their email based on established subscription criteria. For users to subscribe to a report, the report must be saved within a public folder. 


What Is a Dashboard?

A dashboard is a visual display of key metrics and trends for records in your Practifi instance. Dashboards have multiple dashboard components, or charts, displayed within the dashboard page. The relationship between a dashboard component and a report is predicated on the idea that every report can operate without a dashboard, but every dashboard will require a report. Therefore, the dashboard component runs by pulling information from the related report. 

The same report can be used to display multiple dashboard components on a single dashboard page. For example, the same report can be displayed as a bar chart and in a separate component as a pie chart. In addition, multiple dashboard components from separate reports can be viewed within the same dashboard. This creates a powerful visual display and a way to consume multiple reports that often have a common theme, such as sales performance or customer support.

Dashboard Functionality

Dashboard viewing functionality is very similar to report viewing functionality in that dashboards are stored in folders that control who has visibility to the dashboard. If users have access to the dashboard folder, they can view any dashboards stored within the folder. However, to view all dashboard components within a dashboard, the user would also need access to the underlying reports that generate the component. 

Each dashboard has a running user whose security settings determine which data to display in a dashboard. If the running user is a specific user, all dashboard viewers see data based on the security settings of that user regardless of their own personal security settings. For this reason, the dashboard's running user should be chosen carefully so as not to open up too much visibility for other users. For example, if the dashboard's running user is a team manager, it allows her team members to view the dashboard for their individual team but not for other teams. 

Dynamic dashboards are dashboards where the running user is always the logged-in user. This way, each user sees the dashboard following their own access level. If record visibility is a concern, dynamic dashboards may be the best method for your firm, as this style can prevent users from seeing information they would not normally have access to in your organization. 

Like reports, dashboards support editing after initial creation to add new dashboard components, remove no longer needed components, or update the layout. Dashboards also support user subscriptions. The dashboard must be saved to a public folder to subscribe to a user. If the dashboard is not saved to a public folder, this subscription feature will not appear.


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