Salesforce Dashboard Filters in Action

A few releases ago, Salesforce introduced Dashboard Filters. This allowed users to use one dashboard and dynamically change it using a drop down filter. This is an awesome feature because it means you need to maintain less reports and dashboards to deliver desired functionality. I hadn’t moved my reports over to this functionality yet, but I’m now glad I waited until the Spring ’12 release. With this release, they’ve made dashboard filters even more powerful.

First let me try to explain my data model and why I had a zillion reports to accomplish my dashboard requirements. We have reps who might cover a set of territories. The rep owns all the accounts, and we want to be able to report by territory (which is a custom field on the account) on the dashboards. Before filtering was introduced, I couldn’t do dynamic dashboards in this case and just have the dashboard display as the running user. It wouldn’t show the breakout by territory. As a result, for each territory, I had to create a separate set of reports to be used on a dashboard for each territory. Each dashboard had 13 components on it, so let’s do some quick math: 20  territories with 13 components each = 260 reports to maintain!

Enter dashboard filtering. Now with dashboard filtering, I can have 13 reports that are used by the dashboards. I can also reduce the number of dashboards to the number of reps we have. If a rep covers 4 territories, now I just need a single dashboard for that rep. The dashboard then has a filter so when you first pull up the dashboard, you see a roll up of the all territories covered by the rep. You can then drill in using the filter to see individual territories. Now I could get greedy here and switch to one dashboard that is a dynamic one based on the logged-in user. I chose not to go this route because I find it easier for all users to understand and they can also take advantage of the Chatter Feed for the dashboard to discuss a specific rep’s performance without everyone seeing it.

Creating a Dashboard Filter
Dashboard Filters Example

The Spring ’12 release gave us many more features that I’m sure I’ll use soon:

  • You can now create three filters per dashboard.
  • You can now add filters to dynamic dashboards.
  • You can post snapshots of filtered dashboard components to Chatter.
  • You can now filter by the usual operators (starts with, contains, etc)

Some caveats regarding dashboard filters:

  • You can’t filter dashboards with s-controls or Visualforce components.
  • You can only have 10 options for each filter, but according to the release notes, you can increase it to 50 by contacting Salesforce.
  • You can’t filter on bucketed fields.
  • The iPad Dashboard App doesn’t support filters yet so users will only see the first view of data.

Take a good hard look at the new dashboard filters features. They could save you a lot of headaches!