A valuable, but often overlooked resource in Salesforce is Analytic Snapshots. Using Salesforce, you can easily understand how your business is doing and the potential for growth. But what if you want to see how you’ve grown over time? Trend reporting can be difficult at a high level within Salesforce, but Analytic Snapshots make the process a little bit easier. One can schedule “snapshots” which in essence make copies of the data of a specific report and store it as its own record. As more and more scheduled snapshots are created, you will be able to see how things have changed over time.

Here is a specific use case: Your CEO would like to see how the pipeline has changed by stage and by amount over time (thus showing growth or deficit) on a weekly basis.  This can be achieved fairly easily with Analytic Snapshots. Depending on how you group the report from which the analytic snapshot is based, it can capture factors such as amount, stage, and when the snapshot was taken. Next, you can create a dashboard component showing the progression over time. 

With the Winter ’14 release of the “Historical Trending Reports”, users can track progression more efficiently. You can set specific dates or date ranges to see how stage, amount, close date, etc. have progressed. The main restriction with this new function is that the earliest date range that it can display is 90 days prior. In other words, if you’re sales cycle is two or three months, using this report is not optimal. Not to mention if you create a report showing 90 days ago, and view the report a week later, you will have lost some of that data.

This is why analytic snapshots still has an edge over this new report. As long as the snapshot data exists in Salesforce, it can be referenced regardless of when it is viewed.

One other aspect of Analytic Snapshots that is crucial for a business is the ability to manually enter historical data. With the scheduling feature, you can capture progression going forward. But what about historical data?  Here is a trick. Analytic Snapshots are like any other custom object. You can create records, edit records, etc. If you have an Excel sheet of historical data, you can map each of the columns to existing fields in the Analytic Snapshot object, turn the document into a CSV, and import it all as new records using the Dataloader or another similar tool. Analytic Snapshot records are treated the same as any other record in Salesforce and can be reported on.

Here is a use case. You have a sheet showing “Total Active Clients” showing how many active clients that you have for the year broken down by month. In January you had 100 clients, in February you had 105, in March you have 109 etc. You can import this data as new records called “Total Active Clients” to the Analytic Snapshot object. After this, you will be able to see in Salesforce how your client base has developed.

From a top level, it is important to understand how business operations have progressed. Analytic Snapshots are a great tool for telling the overall story of your business.