Around 6 months ago, we rolled out a new feature at work to help my team be able to better manage their portfolios. It’s called a dashboard (no relation to automobiles!) which provides charts and graphs that summarize different aspects of data, answering questions like “How many active grants do I have?” or “How much money is under consideration?” and most importantly, “Where do I need to take action ASAP?” To make this dashboard, I used a feature in Salesforce called Dashboard Filters that enable us to answer the above questions for <only my grants> or <my team’s grants> or <grants in a specific strategy>. One dashboard; many datasets. Truly a game changer!

With features like this dashboard, I generally consider “no news is good news” so after the initial release, training, and survey, I haven’t put much thought into it. So perhaps you can imagine my reaction when (seemingly out of the blue) two co-workers made me aware of some issues. One person had a recommendation for an enhancement, and one person wasn’t seeing the data she expected when she applied certain filters.

My reaction:

  • shocked
  • embarrassed
  • inconvenienced
  • flustered
  • defensive
  • encouraged
  • enthusiastic
  • grateful

These type of meetings show me that my team is using the features that I create – and nothing makes me happier! (Ok, except bubble tea… puppies… winning campaign demands … etc). Technology is meant to be used, and improved, all the time. I have worked hard to chip away at defensiveness when we discover mistakes, and instead treat them as a learning opportunity (for me) and a teachable moment (for my team) and a run-of-the-mill expectation in my line of work. So now, for the solutions!

Enhancement #1

One of my co-workers wants to become a better sleuth and find data mistakes before they become a problem (or before they are noticed by other staff). She had an idea for a dashboard element to add – a chart that would display grants where the projected payments are out of sync with the “recommended award.” This was an excellent recommendation and easy request to deliver, and I wanted to work on it ASAP to show her that I appreciate her brainstorming and problem-solving attitude.

Uh oh #1

The other problem proved to be a LOT more difficult to solve and truthfully sent me on a bit of a wild goose chase. When the dashboard was filtered based on certain strategies, all of the grants that should show up were somehow not showing up! I tested the feature again and again – with test records, with test reports, with the current report again and again (hoping something would change, or be revealed!) to no avail.

Lo and behold, I found the pesky problem – we have two fields named “Strategy” (one is part of a Managed Package and unfortunately we cannot change it – causing many a furrowed brow) and the Dashboard filter was looking at the wrong one. Some data had the bad field populated and others did not, and it was very hard to tell why those appeared on the report! Simple enough to fix, right?? Just change the dashboard filter to the RIGHT “Strategy” field and everything should be fixed.

Well, if that was true… I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog post. Womp womp!

Down the rabbit hole I went. Further and further!

First of all, it appears as though you cannot change Dashboard filters to a new field. (See “Idea” here and upvote if you so choose!). New plan… create a new Filter to replace the old one! But… foiled again !!!! The correct Strategy field was not showing up. Back to the rabbit hole! Digging and digging…

Why couldn’t I add the correct field to the Dashboard Filter parameters?

Before I pulled my hair out, I reminded myself of my positive Changemaker Mindsets… (1) I’ve solved hard problems before; (2) I know people who can help me if I get stuck; (3) Error messages are helpful clues, not failures; (4) Don’t forget to breathe!

I looked at some Salesforce community forums to see if anyone else had encountered this problem and had any advice. This post helped lead me in the right direction. One of the source reports for the dashboard must be missing the field in question… but which one? Time to open every single report and refer to the Report Type! No, no, no, no, AHA!!!!

I drilled down to the underlying Report Type that did not have the “right” Strategy field mapped and made the switch. Then, back to the Dashboard where I needed to re-create the Filter. To my joy and amazement, BOTH “strategy” fields showed up, and this time, I selected the right one. I filled in all of the appropriate Strategy parameters so that I could delete the old Strategy filter. And next thing I knew, the Dashboard filters were pulling in the right data at the right time.

5 why’s

This is (accidentally) a great example of the 5 Why’s activity for root cause analysis. (I really like this worksheet as a resource! (source of image below).

Why is our dashboard broken?

  1. Why is our dashboard displaying the wrong information?
  2. We are are filtering by the wrong field! Why?
  3. Because our Dashboard Filter is pointed to the wrong field! Why?
  4. Because the Dashboard had a source report that was missing that field! Why?
  5. Root cause: We added a custom field and neglected to add it to all relevant Custom Report Types.

I think changemakers are ESPECIALLY well suited to do this kind of inquiry because we place such a high value on root cause analysis and strategy. The same kind of thinking that goes into campaigning can be applied to technology… with GREAT results!

Here’s another way to think of the situation: This problem was like a quintuple whammy… interpreting an issue from an end user + platform limitations + bad architecture (two fields with the same name is a terrible idea!) + a uncovering mistake from months ago + an obscure solution. I’m glad it only took 2 hours or so to solve. Here’s a reminder to myself (and all of you!) that sometimes solutions are quick and sometimes they are never-ending, but guess what? You’re awesome no matter how long it takes! You’re awesome if you need help! You’re awesome for giving it a shot! You’re awesome for believing that change is possible. And I’m with you all the way. I hope that writing about solutions here (big and small, puns and pep talks included) help. Keep going! <3 xo

PS speaking of drummers, I wrote this blog post, and came up with this solution, while listening to amazing footage of the Highwomen at the Newport Folk Fest!

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