Data is interesting in that without context and explanation, it loses much of its value. The same happens, if we fail to get a good, simplified overall picture of data. Or when, after that, we lose the chance to dive quickly into deeper detail, looking at it from various perspectives, so we can gain a better understanding and verify our findings.
In a previous article, we discussed the challenges that a sales team led by Terri encountered with customer account reporting. Terri’s team must manually combine data from, say, multiple Salesforce objects like products, contacts and cases to get a holistic view of the account status. The details of each account report could include:
- key customer contacts
- won opportunities and their total value during the reporting period
- lost opportunities and their total value during the reporting period
- opportunities in the pipeline and their total value
- history of products sold to the customer
- technical support projects delivered to the customer.
CRM platforms like Salesforce themselves offer impressive reporting capabilities: on products sold and sales projected, account details, contacts, campaigns and so on. However, compiling a report like shown in the example above requires the kind of flexibility not found in the inherent capabilities of a CRM like Salesforce. We are speaking about a highly specialized task, which has not been feasible to be implemented as a platform feature.
Why fixes on platform level do not work
One way to introduce advanced reporting capabilities in Salesforce is to do additional coding on the platform level. The problem is, this solution tends to come costly; one of our system integrator partners told us that it takes something like 4 man-days to create some kind of report templates with no editing options with this approach. If you want to make slight edits to them, you soon find a few more days have sunk into the project.
Also, customizations may just get broken when platform updates are run.
Why not try a specialized app?
If the CRM platform cannot do it, is there another tool that can? The answer is yes actually, but it comes in a slightly surprising form: a document automation application. In fact, there are many such things available for Salesforce alone in the AppExchange application store.
Document automation applications can simply collect dynamic data automatically from all around the Salesforce into the form of an electronic document that can also be easily printed and shared. The documents are based on templates, whose content can be flexibly defined. Some sections will have a fixed form with dynamic content brought from Salesforce. Other sections may allow users to edit the content and/or add their own comments.
5 things to consider when selecting your app
But what are the key criteria when choosing one? We think they are the following:
- speed and simplicity of deployment and maintenance
- ease of creating new reports and developing them further as the business evolves
- flexible filtering and calculation functions
- clarity and quality of the report layouts
- capability to share reports easily.
Documill Dynamo can do it all
Our Documill Dynamo document automation application provides a robust, user-friendly reporting solution for Salesforce that meets all the requirements above.
Actually, we have produced a sample template that would provide all the information that we assumed Terri, her team and managers would need. Why not try it out? In fact, you would be able to roll it out to your team in Salesforce in half an hour, from application download to rolling out so it can be used by your whole team.