Salesforce Tip: Choosing the Correct Report Type

Been frustrated by creating a new report in Salesforce recently?

You started building the report of your dreams, everything was going great, and you felt like you were doing everything right… Then you got stuck.

Do any of these sound familiar to your situation?

  • I didn’t know what report type to choose
  • I just needed one more field and it’s not there
  • I built two reports that show me what I need and I want to pull them together in one report

In our next few Salesforce Support Tips, we will go through these common scenarios and describe how we can solve each one. Thinking through each of these reporting challenges will help you understand your data better, and take full advantage of Salesforce’s reporting tool!

Choosing the Correct Report Type

Choosing the correct report type is the very first step in creating a report from scratch, but it can be very hard to know which one to choose (most nonprofits start with over 250 report types), and what to expect based on your choice. The report type controls what Objects will be included in the report (types of records, like Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, etc.), and what fields you will be able to add to it and view.

To solve this problem we need to take a step back -- let’s figure out exactly what data we’re trying to report on, since that will help us understand where to begin. Start by going to a record that you would expect to see in the report. Begin a two column list, handwritten or in a spreadsheet. In one column, list where that field can be found (i.e. what object it is on) and in the second column the field’s name.

Scroll through the record and find the fields you are looking for until you are satisfied. Start your chart with the fields on the record itself. Next, view your related lists. You’re not limited to fields visible in the related list -- go ahead and click through to open up a sample child record, and add some fields from that record to your list. Finally, back on the first record, consider any lookups -- fields that directly link to another record. For example, if you started with a Contact record, you may want to add fields from that Contact’s Household Account or from their Primary Affiliation. Put them on the list!

For most reports, you’ll end up with a list with two types of records (object names), maybe three: some fields from the record you started from, and some from one of the related lists, and perhaps some fields from one of those lookup relationships. In our example, Contacts are the parent object, and Opportunities are the child object.

With this clarity, choosing the right report type is easier. The name of most report types will include the object name, like “Accounts and Contacts” or “Contacts with Opportunities.” Your list will tell you which object name you should look for. If you only have fields from Contacts, then you can choose the “Contact” report type. If you have fields from Contacts and Opportunities, then pick “Contacts with Opportunities” as your report type.

(If your list includes fields from more than three objects, stay tuned for next month’s support tip, where we will show you how to customize report types beyond two objects.)

Type in contacts and choose the record type with just opportunities. Voila!

With over 250 report types, mastering reports can take some time.  So if you do not have the time to figure out why your report does not have the formatting or the results you require, please submit a support request.  We are here to help!

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