Never Use an Outdated Salesforce Report Again

Have you ever been asked for a Salesforce report, run it and passed it along only to find out later that the information was completely wrong or out-of-date? Or even worse, has someone else found an old report with bad data and unwittingly distributed it to the whole company? Yikes! Hopefully it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, let’s be honest, it sucks.

Having spent time at rapidly growing software companies, I know firsthand what the reports tab in Salesforce ends up looking like over time: dozens of folders, dashboards galore, and thousands of stale reports sitting there dying a slow, slow death. At some point, it gets confusing and ultimately becomes a complete disaster. Regular cleanup is clearly important, but what can you do right now to avoid costly mistakes? How do you know which reports to trust and which ones to avoid? At first glance, it doesn’t seem like an easy task when you land on the reports tab and see the default Salesforce setup.

Look familiar?

If you’ve spent any time working with reports in Salesforce, then seeing this screen is likely part of your daily routine. This screen also drives me crazy! Doesn’t it look a bit empty? Like it’s missing something?

I see this exact same view all the time on what feels like everyone’s monitors — sales reps, ops and enablement folks, and yes, even admins — and it makes me cringe. Every. Single. Time. The default view lacks valuable information you would (or should) want to know before using a report: When was this created anyway? Has it been updated? Who last edited this?

I don’t know why Salesforce designed it this way and I don’t know why users keep it this way, but my guess is that most people just don’t know there is a wealth of information tucked away right there in front of them. Before you end up running an outdated report that you embarrassingly send along to your CEO, let’s get this fixed and avoid that career-limiting move altogether. Well, at least as it pertains to your reports.

To get started, here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Go to the Salesforce reports tab.

Step 2: Hover over any of the column headers, click the little black arrow, and then navigate to the ‘Columns’ option. Voila! Select the additional fields you’d like to see every time you visit this tab in the future. I recommend making sure all options are checked so you’re not left in the dark the next time you’re pulling a report.

For instance, if the created date shows as 7 years ago and it hasn’t been modified since, or if you don’t recognize the name of the person who last updated the report because she no longer works there, it’s probably a good indicator to review it thoroughly or simply create your own from scratch. Better to be safe than sorry.

Step 3: Rearrange the column headers in a way that makes sense to you by simply dragging and dropping.

Here’s a snippet of my preferred setup in case you’re curious:

Okay, that’s it! So simple, yet so often missed.

Now that you’ve updated your layout, I promise you’ll be changed forever, and the next time you see that ungodly amount of whitespace on someone else’s reports page, you too will cringe. From there, it’s only right to share the love and entrust them with this wonderful tidbit of knowledge as well. Everyone will be glad you did.


Photo credit: T a k via / CC BY-NC

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