Building Salesforce Dashboards to Visualize Your Project Data

Brandi Johnson

Jul 29 2015 11 min read

Managing projects is about more than just making sure that action items get done, and that you meet milestone dates. With Cloud Coach, you will get data about your projects, tasks, and teams that you can use to build Salesforce dashboards.

What is a Dashboard?

A dashboard is a visual display of key metrics and reports for your organization. It can help users visualize complex data.  For each dashboard component or chart, there is a single underlying report that provides the data displayed. Salesforce dashboards are a great way to display multiple reports that often have a common theme, such as sales performance, customer support, activity, and project status. You can see a variety of statistics at a glance, helping you get a snapshot of your KPIs.

Dashboards are very easy to setup and can be extremely useful to your business and should be used, not only to display information to users, but also to drive results. When designing a dashboard, you should consider what information you need to review, and what action items you want to take from this data. Then, your Salesforce dashboard can provide real-time data based on the reports you build, allowing you to quickly and easily keep an eye on key statistics.

Report and Dashboard Components

This first step in setting up a dashboard is creating the reports that will provide the data.  You need to determine what the goal of the dashboard and report are. Do you want to see all information about users activity?  Are you creating a team dashboard for a manager?  Is this a dashboard for all activities related to a team’s project?  Once you have determined the goal, you can then decide what fields to add to your report and how to display your metrics.

There are many different ways to display data on a dashboard:

Pie Chart

This is good for displaying data as portions of a total; this could be used for project status when you want to see either a number or percentage for the status field. For example, you could see how much of a project is completed based on the status of the tasks.

Horizontal Bar Chart, and Vertical Bar Chart

These are used when you want to display data based on location or stage.  You could also use this for activities each day where you want to see a trend. This could allow you to better organize your schedule, or review staffing needs over time.


A gauge is useful when you have a single value that you want to show within a range of custom values.  For example, you could have a goal of completing their tasks assigned in a given month; you can then assign Red, Amber and Green values.


A metric component consists of a single value and is good for sales amounts and when you need a quick view of the number of days or amount of something in the pipeline.


This is used when you want to display a list of data, much like a spreadsheet.  You can select the maximum number of rows to displays so you don’t crowd your dashboard.

All dashboard components have the option to see more detailed information. To see the details behind any component of a Salesforce dashboard component, the user can click on the item, which will open the underlying source report.

Dashboard Security

Each dashboard you create is based on a specific user. This user determines the security settings of the dashboards and the data displayed. If the dashboard is based on a manager, then all users who are assigned that dashboard can see the same level of details that the manager can see. This is good for big picture dashboards such as how the company is doing as a whole. If you have sensitive data then it is important not to open up your dashboards too much. You can control this by selecting a user who is on the same level as the targeted users.
Another way to control views on a dashboard is to use a dynamic dashboard. With a targeted Salesforce dashboard, the person who is logged in and viewing the dashboard will only see data based on their own access level. This user is called the running user. If you’re concerned about too much access, dynamic dashboards are a good way to go. Dynamic dashboards are also useful when you need users to see only their own and their teams dashboards. Rather than creating several different reports for each person you can use a dynamic dashboard to only show them information that is important to them.

Creating a Dashboard

Creating a dashboard can be divided into two main phases: Planning and Setup

During the planning, phase you should:

1. Determine the goal of your dashboard

2.What information do you and your users want to see?

3. Do your users have the right permission sets to see the data in your dashboard?

It may be tempting to skip this phase, and move directly to building your dashboard. You’ll save yourself time and frustration by thinking through the use of the Salesforce dashboard before you build and create.

Once you’ve planned for your dashboard, then you can move into the phase of building your dashboard.

1. Create the underlying reports.  If you need a refresher on building reports you can check out our blog post: Creating Salesforce Reports Using Your Cloud Coach Objects

2. Go to the Dashboards tab in Salesforce

3. Drag the source report onto the dashboard editor

4. Drag component onto dashboard editor

5. Use a clear and concise naming strategy for the header and title so users can understand what information they are seeing.  If the data is for the current financial year, have that in the title.  Is it for a specific team or group, include that in the title.  Make it as clear as possible to the end user, what information they should get from each component.

6. Save and distribute your dashboard.  You save the Dashboard by clicking on Save at the top left of the page.    A box will appear, you need to enter the name of the dashboard and select a folder in which to store the dashboard. The folder settings will determine who can see, and therefore run and use the dashboard.  Users will not be automatically alerted to this new dashboard in the folder, you will need to let them know.

Now you can easily visualize the data on your Cloud Coach projects using a Salesforce dashboard.

Whether you are looking for project management, or professional services automation tools on the Salesforce platform, Cloud Coach has the tools for you. Request a demo today and learn how you can more quickly and efficiently manage your business, leveraging the Salesforce platform.


Brandi Johnson

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