By Tal Frankfurt

Standard Salesforce reporting works fairly well for many people.  Unfortunately, for those users with more complex analytics requirements, even the addition of joined reports to the Salesforce toolkit doesn’t quite fit the bill.  The problem is essentially that we are still looking primarily at one object and its directly adjacent relationships.  For example, all cases grouped by Priority and listed by Status, or all Opportunities grouped by Owner and listed by Stage (see more examples here).  But what if you wanted to show the top 10 most frequently sold Products by the 5 users with the highest total Closed-Won Opportunity value this year?  Now, you see, the limitations of standard reporting are becoming clearer.  Where to turn now?  I’d recommend trying out Apsona Multi-Step Reporting (fondly referred to as MSR).

What’s Apsona Multi-Step Reporting?

If you haven’t heard about Apsona, Francis wrote a great overview post just a couple months ago.  The two sentence summary is this: Apsona is a great app that sits directly inside of Salesforce and provides users some powerful options for querying, updating, importing and exporting, and reporting on their Salesforce data.  It even has a mail merge add-on that Dylan wrote about last month!  The best thing is that Apsona donates free licenses to non-profits for Apsona for Salesforce, so those organizations only ever pay for the extras, like Email and Document Merge or MSR.  [To learn more, sign up for our Apsona webinar later this year, led by Cloud For Good CEO Tal Frankfurt.]

 If Apsona for Salesforce allows for reporting, why would I pay extra for the Multi-Step Reporting add-on?

The reporting capabilities of Apsona for Salesforce are awesome, especially when you want to do exception reporting (for example, show me all Donors with no donation records).  While the base package provides some useful upgrades from standard Salesforce reporting, it faces similar limitations: the reports are structured around one object and its relationships.  Apsona Multi-Step Reporting extends your analytic reach by making it possible to layer and connect reports which in turns allows you to report on objects several relationships removed (including custom objects).

Examples?  Of course!

We’ll start with the two most common fundraising examples used by Apsona itself.  The first displays the organization’s top donors (min. $1k per donation) over the last 3 years with the total donation amount per year.  This example is weaker, because that report could be created using standard joined reports (grouped by Donor and listed by Year).  The second, however, really begins to show off the power of MSR: Show me all campaigns for the past year and, for each one, also provide the total value of Received Donations, the five largest Donations, and the Donors (with contact information) for each Donation listed.

Let’s look at some other non-profit use cases:

  • Say you’re planning an intimate holiday luncheon to cultivate Major Donations and you only want to focus on those donors who have given more than $10k each year for the past 3 years consecutively.  With MSR, you can run a report for each year, showing all opportunities greater than or equal to $10k, and link them such that your final list only shows donors listed in all three years.  From there, it’s just a click to add those contacts to your event’s campaign record.
  • Perhaps you want to track the number of members or volunteers active in or added to your organization each year.  Standard Salesforce reporting would require you to use the Analytic Snapshot funcationality to capture data metrics over time, but with MSR you can run a report for each year that shows the record count for all contacts that meet your filter criteria.  Because MSR allows you to connect these reports (or “steps”), you can quickly and easily visualize this information side-by-side.  Please note, however, that multi-step reports do not yet allow for charts and dashboards like the single-step reports in Apsona for Salesforce.
  • Maybe your organization hosts frequent programs – education workshops or community plays, for example – and you want a report that lists all of last year’s programs/shows ranked by the amount of money earned and, for each program/show, lists the three most popular workshops/performances based on attendance and the primary facilitator/director for each one, along with a few details like time and location.  Similar to Apsona’s second fundraising example above, you can use MSR to run one report to pull your programs (sorted by total income), a second to link the workshops (with a range of first 3 records ranked by total attendees), and a third to provide facilitator information.
  • If you use Salesforce for project management, you could run a report to show you all Organizations with open Opportunities and their primary contact, the completion percentage of the related project, and a list of all incomplete milestones and their outstanding tasks sorted by due date.
  • You could also be a school who needs a list of all households with at least one child in Preschool for the current academic year and whose primary parent has not opted out of email communications.  While standard Salesforce functionality only allows you to report on “one-to-many” relationships from the “many” up to the “one,” Apsona MSR allows you to work “down the relationship” (from the household to the related contacts, for example) by layering additional reports that act as filters on top of the initial query.

What do I do now?

If you need more power and flexibility in analytics than standard Salesforce reporting has to offer, head to the AppExchange and give Apsona Multi-Step Reporting a try.  Just remember, if you aren’t already an Apsona user, you’ll need to download Apsona for Salesforce first.  Both products come with a 30-day free trial, and don’t forget! you can get 10 free licenses for Apsona for Salesforce just by providing basic documentation.  If you like MSR, the only additional cost is $96 per year per user, with no minimum number of users required.  For the price of free, the 30-day trial is at the very least a great chance to see if Apsona Multi-Step Reporting is the tool that will take your analytics to the next level!

Tal Frankfurt

Tal Frankfurt

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