Project management requires more than staying on top of current projects and managing risks as they come up—it requires the ability to look back on completed projects and assess what went well and what needs future attention. If project managers can’t learn from past mistakes they are doomed to repeat them.
Unfortunately, using standard Salesforce reports means the PM can only see how their current projects are performing, which doesn’t do much good when the project is completed and it’s time to review. That’s where a handy little device from Salesforce comes in handy. By combining Salesforce Reporting Snapshots with Cloud Coach, project managers can look backward at completed and canceled projects, review the positives and negatives and adjust for the future.
Today we’re going to walk through how to create a Reporting Snapshot, and how to combine it with Cloud Coach data to create a powerful solution for monitoring historical project trends.
Step One: Create a Source Report
Alright, let’s start this off by creating a new report that houses all the fields we want to reference for our Reporting Snapshot. Since the next step involves creating a custom object, and we don’t want to create a custom object for every separate function of our project, we’re going to create a source report that references all the fields we may ever want to pull in a report.
In other words, we’re going to create a really big tabular report that houses every field from our project.
We start by creating a new report, picking Projects as the Report Type and Tabular for the reporting format:
Next, we’re going to add every field we want to report on in the future. The key to creating a source report is remembering this isn’t the final report we’re going to analyze for our historical trends. All we’re doing here is referencing fields we’ll need for our historical report in the future.
Once you add in all your pertinent fields your source report should look a little like this (fields may differ):
Now save it, give it a snazzy name like “Project Reporting Snapshots” and let’s move on to the next step.
Step Two: Create a Custom Object
Here’s where things get a little strange. As it is, that source report isn’t going to give us any information that allows us to look at historical trends—it’s showing current values, just like our regular Salesforce reports. We need to combine it with a custom object in order to capture the field data in the source report every week (or day, or month).
We’ll start by going to Setup -> Create -> Objects and create a New Custom Object. Name it something snazzy like “Project Reporting Snapshot” and make sure it’s deployed.
Save it and let’s go on to the next step: Creating custom fields.
Since we’re combining this with our Project source report, we need to create a custom field for each of the fields in our report. And since we’re Salesforce rock stars, we’re going to ensure that each of the custom fields in our new object have the same data type as the fields in our source report.
Step Three: Create a Reporting Snapshot
Now that we have our custom object set up with fields that map to our source report, we need to merge them together by creating a Reporting Snapshot. Once that is created we can start capturing that historical data we need to review after our project is completed.
We’ll start by going to Setup -> Data Management -> Reporting Snapshots, and creating a new Reporting Snapshot. Once in the creation screen we need to give our snapshot a snazzy name, like “Project Reporting Snapshot”, determine a running user—make sure you pick a user who has access to all the fields and the folder attached to the source report—and choose our source report and custom object for the Source Report and Target Object fields.
On to the next step: Choose Save and Edit Field Mapping, and pick which fields in your source report to match to the fields in your custom object. If you don’t have a field on the source report to map to a custom object field (like Last Viewed Date), then leave the picklist blank. Similarly, there may be fields on the custom object that are incompatible data types with the source report; we can leave those blank as well.
Note that we can choose to have the snapshot data emailed to us if we’d like, and we can also determine the time the snapshot is taken, as well as a start and end date.
Step Four: Create a Historical Report
Once a few days have passed, and we’ve had time for our reporting snapshot to fire a couple of times, we can navigate to our custom object and observe the new records that have been created.
Notice that we have a separate record for each of our projects. And when we open those records we see those fields we mapped filled with sparkly new data:
Now we have a record with a created date that shows us that project information for that specific date. We all know what that means—time to report!
Since we created a new object, the first thing we need to do is make a new Report Type so we can reference it in reports:
Once our new Report Type is we’re flooded with possibilties, because we can into Reports, create a new Report (using our new Report Type) and pull whatever information we need, and compare it by date.
For example, maybe we want to see how our Cost Performance Index changed over the course of the project. We can use a Matrix report and place the Project Name on the left, and sort the columns by Created Date:
Then we can move our Cost Performance Index field into the drop zone for summarizable fields:
And when we run the report we can see how that index increased or decreased throughout the project duration:
It’s easy to see the possibilities for reporting when you combine the power of Salesforce Reporting Snapshots with the data-capturing elements of Cloud Coach. Once our snapshot is setup it’s a snap to create reports that show the historical trends of those critical project fields. We can see how our budget changed throughout the project, comparing completion percentage and entered hours at the beginning, middle, and end of our project, and determining how well we executed on our financials once the job is done.
It’s just that easy.