As mentioned in my 5 killer Salesforce user tips post, learning Dashboards is the natural step after mastering reports. Dashboards are a way to visually represent the reports you have created. You can add charts to your reports but dashboards give you more options and also the ability to add up to 20 charts and tables on one page for a quick view of multiple reports.
Below if an example of a dashboard. Here you can see each component (graph or table) is directly linked to a report. If you are interested the dashboard below was installed from the AppExchange and has a bunch of CRM Dashboards created by Salesforce, you can grab it here.
Creating Dashboards in Salesforce
Once you have created your report, creating dashboards is simply a drag and drop job. One thing you do have to make sure of is that you have created the correct report type. Tabular reports are not going to work with the majority of components unless they have a row limit, then then can work with chart or table components. The majority of the time you are creating reports to work in dashboards you are probably going to be working with summary reports as you are summarising a certain value and then displaying these values in a bar chart, pie chart, pipeline chart etc.
1. So to start off you need to navigate to the reports tab and hit “New Dashboard” directly next to “New Report”. If you don’t have this button here you probably don’t have the correct permissions, best thing to do is get in contact with your System Administrator.
2. You will then see the layout design manager for your dashboard. On the left hand side you will be able to see the different components you can add to your dashboard. The top two starting from the left are bar charts, a line graph, pie chart, doughnut chart, pipeline funnel, scatter chart, gauge chart, metric and table. For a more detailed explanation of each of these please see Salesforce description here. Ignore the bottom two
3. Once you have chosen your selected component you can simply drag and drop it to your chosen column. This is the first step. The second step is to populate that chart with some data. On the tab next to components you will see datasources. This is a list of all your reports in Salesforce. As a slight tip if you are building a big dashboard it is best to create a new folder so everything is contained. Once you have found your selected report you can simply drag and drop it onto the component and you’re done!
4. The last step is to simply customise to your liking! If you click on the little spanner within the component you will be direct to a page with two tabs. You can change the Component data and formatting here as well as a change of graph type.