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A technical overview of how we built the Sales Cloud Day Planner

This technical blog is a step by step guide on how we created a visual tool within Oracle Sales Cloud, to allow sales users to easily manage their daily workload.

We were recently faced with the requirement of creating a visual tool to allow sales users to manage their workload from within an Oracle Sales Cloud environment. We created the Day Planner; a single report combining Leads, Opportunity and Activity records that require a sales user's attention. The Day Planner improves the user's experience giving them access to the records they need, with less time spent searching for the records they should be updating.

This is a technical blog post that covers, in quite some detail, how we have achieved the visual elements of the report. If you're interested about the business benefits behind the tool we created, you can read more in this separate blog post discussing these.

Adding visual elements to the BI Analysis

Sales Cloud's (part of the Oracle CX Cloud product suite) Simplified UI makes use of colourful icons to represent objects. We wanted to include these icons in the report to quickly alert users to which records were listed in the report, but also to improve the user experience. The icons were chosen to provide consistency as they transition between the Sales Cloud application they're used to, and the Day Planner report.

How the Simplified UI icon sets have been utilised in the BI Analysis

Figure 1 - How the Simplified UI icon sets have been utilised in the BI Analysis

I took a copy of the icons used in Simplified UI and hosted them in Sales Cloud’s WebCenter (Navigator > Spaces > WebCenter Services).

I created a new Document Exchange area called ‘images’ and uploaded all of the icons there:

Figure 2 - Storing the Simplified UI icons in the Sales Cloud WebCenter

Figure 2 - Storing the Simplified UI icons in the Sales Cloud WebCenter

The URL of the icon is required for the icon to display in BI. Right-click an image, choose ‘Get a Link’ and copy the ‘Download URL’.

Figure 3 - Getting the icon's URL from the WebCenter
Figure 3 - Getting the icon's URL from the WebCenter
Building the report in OTBI

We're using Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence (OTBI) to create the Day Planner, which comes as standard with any Sales Cloud environment. The main sales transactional database is queried when a user runs any OTBI report, so a Data Warehouse or ETL process isn't required. This means that whenever a user views the day planner, the data is completely up-to-date. Below, we'll look at how we can create some visual elements in OTBI.

For each of the Subject Areas used in the Day Planner report, add a new criteria column and specify the Icon URL it relates to. As Activities are further separated into Task, Appointment and Call Report, I’ve used a CASE Switch function on the ‘Activity Function Name’ column to display the relevant icon URL:

Figure 4 - CASE statement in the BI Analysis to display the correct icon

Figure 4 - CASE statement in the BI Analysis to display the correct icon

Under Result Columns, select the URL column you've just created and change the Data Format to ‘Image URL’. This will display the icon in the results table instead of the text.

Not all users will be completely familiar with the icons and what they represent, so creating a legend to add to the report would avoid any confusion. Create a new Analysis, and from the Result tab, add a Legend view.

The Legend can be created by specifying the same image URLs that are included in the Criteria Columns, but also adding a static text explanation:

Figure 5 - Creating the legend

Figure 5 - Creating the legend

Save the legend as an analysis. We’ll be adding this alongside the report to a dashboard later.

The final visual aspect I added to the report is the overdue flag. To create this, I added a new result column for each of the subject areas and used a case statement to return ‘Y’ if the object’s close/due date is in the past. For example, the CRM Pipeline subject area for Opportunities:

Figure 6 - CASE statement for the overdue flag

Figure 6 - CASE statement for the overdue flag

I then simply used some conditional formatting on the Overdue Flag column to display one of the core, "out of the box" (OOTB), Sales Cloud icons if the value is ‘Y’:

Figure 7 - Conditionally formatting the Overdue column

Figure 7 - Conditionally formatting the Overdue column

By default, the image included in the Conditional Formatting will be displayed alongside the original value. This would display a list of Boolean values, some of which would have a red icon next to them:

Figure 8 - The conditionally formatted column still displays the original value

Figure 8 - The conditionally formatted column still displays the original value

To get around this, we can override the default data format of the overdue column. Change the type to ‘Custom Text Format’ and enter a space.

The overdue column will now display an image if the date is in the past or display a blank space if it isn't:

Figure 9 - The conditionally formatted column doesn't display the original value

Figure 9 - The conditionally formatted column doesn't display the original value

Creating the Infolet tiles

As well as being visually appealing, we wanted the report to be easy for users to access. We could have given the workforce a static link to the report that they could add to their bookmarks and access whenever they needed to, but this would create a disjointed user experience where users would be taken away from Sales Cloud when they wanted to check the report.

We decided to add the Day Planner to the Sales Infolet page on Simplified UI, an area of Sales Cloud that arrived with Release 10. The Sales Infolet page brings a couple of advantages:

  • Users can access the page either by swiping right on a tablet device, or by clicking the ‘next page’ icon from the Sales Cloud home page:

Figure 10 - Accessing the Sales Infolets page

Figure 10 - Accessing the Sales Infolets page
  • Infolet Tiles can be different sizes, or animated. Various levels of information can be included in a single tile by using a ‘back’ and ‘expanded’ view. Users can access the different information with a single click:

Figure 11 - Infolets have a back and expanded view

Figure 11 - Infolets have a back and expanded view

The Infolet Tile is simply another BI Analysis and, in this example, gives a sum of the number of items on the Day Planner. This requires the same criteria and filters as the Day Planner report but needs a fact to display the number of records.

Start with a copy of the initial report, but add a new result column to each Subject Area counting the Record Id:

Figure 12 - Counting the Record Id

Figure 12 - Counting the Record Id

In the Results pane, remove the table of results and select a Performance Tile from the ‘Views’ section:

Figure 13 - Adding the Performance Tile View

Figure 13 - Adding the Performance Tile View

BI will do most of the work so the tile should just need styling. The size is defaulted to a 1x1 tile, but the Sales Infolet page allows sizes up to 3x2. Select ‘Properties’ to modify the sizing:

Figure 14 - Controlling the size of the Infolet

Figure 14 - Controlling the size of the Infolet

The list below details the pixel sizes for the different tile sizes (size: width (px); height (px))

1x1: 135; 135

1x2: 335; 135

1x3: 520; 135

2x1: 130; 300

2x2: 330; 300

2x3: 520; 300

3x1: 145; 485

Select the ‘Text Formatting’ icon next to every area to modify the font, colour, etc.:

Figure 15 - Formatting the tiles

Figure 15 - Formatting the tiles

This finalises the ‘front’ view of the Infolet Tile and will allow users to very quickly view how many records they need to work on.

To give slightly more information, we've used the ‘expanded view’ of the tile to give visibility of the top 3 items in the day planner. I chose the ‘expanded view’ instead of the ‘back view’ so that we could use a different sized tile. The day planner is sorted by due date, so the top 3 items will be the next 3 items due. To create this, take another copy of the Day Planner report. Instead of adding a performance tile, keep the table of results but modify the table to only include the icon image, name, due date and overdue flag.

Open the table properties and limit the ‘Rows per Page’ to 3 and switch the ‘Paging Controls’ to ‘Hide’. This will only display three records in the table, but remove the ability for users to see more:

Figure 16 - Limiting the number of rows returned in the Analysis

Figure 16 - Limiting the number of rows returned in the Analysis

Creating the Dashboard

We need to add the Day Planner Analysis and the Legend Analysis to a Dashboard to allow us to embed the Day Planner onto the Sales Infolet Page. Create a new Dashboard with two columns next to each other. Drag the Day Planner Analysis in the left column and the Legend Analysis in the right column:

Figure 17 -  Creating the BI Dashboard

Figure 17 - Creating the BI Dashboard

Open the Properties popup for the left column and specify a width of 700px. This will avoid any unwanted scrollbars being added to the report:

Figure 18 - Setting the width of the Dashboard

Figure 18 - Setting the width of the Dashboard

We want to ensure that the Legend is always visible on the report so users can always establish which record type the icon relates to. To achieve this, we can use CSS to fix the position of the legend relative to the area it’s embedded into. Open the Properties popup for the right column and check the ‘Use Custom CSS Style’ checkbox and enter the CSS as per the image below (we have tested this down to iPad size, but the fixed position may need further testing for different screen sizes). Increase the percentage to move the Legend further to the right:

Figure 18 - Keeping the Legend at the top of the report

Figure 19 - Keeping the Legend at the top of the report

Finally, we need to modify the BI Dashboard to have the ‘Fuse’ Style added to it (this gives the Simplified UI ‘Fuse’ theme to the report, rather than the default, older, Desktop UI ‘Skyros’ theme). Open the Dashboard Properties and choose the ‘Fuse’ Style:

Figure 19 - Giving the Dashboard the Simplified UI style

Figure 20 - Giving the Dashboard the Simplified UI style

Figure 20 - The result of modifying the Dashboard's style

Figure 21 - The result of modifying the Dashboard's style

Embedding everything into Sales Cloud

The reports are now ready to be embedded into the Sales Infolet Page! In a sandbox, open Page Composer and navigate to the Sales Infolet page. To add the tiles, simply select the folder icon and ‘New Tile’. Click ‘Add Content’ and use the popup to navigate to the tiles you created.

In the popup, select size as ‘1 X 1’ for the front view, but ‘1 X 2’ for the expanded view:

Figure 21 - Embedding the Infolet Tiles

Figure 22 - Embedding the Infolet Tiles

Select the Tile Properties, choose ‘Link Detailed Report’, click ‘Add Content’ and then specify the Day Planner Dashboard:

Figure 22 - Linking the report to the Infolet Tile

Figure 23 - Linking the report to the Infolet Tile

Users can now access the report easily from the Sales Infolet Page, with the tiles giving multiple views of the same information.

The video below shows how users can make use of the Day Planner report on a daily basis: 

Conclusion

We’ve utilised some OOTB Sales Cloud features to turn quite a simple BI Analysis into a visual way for sales users to be view their required tasks and manage their workload. The report could easily be expanded to give a ‘Team Planner’ for Sales Managers, or the criteria could be expanded to only display very specific records.

While this blog post doesn’t look too much at the specifics of the BI Analysis, we’re currently running a series of posts detailing best practices for creating OTBI reports. We've also blogged in the past about creating multi subject area reports.

Ask the experts

If improving the productivity of your sales teams or enhancing your Sales Cloud user experience is a priority for your organisation, email us at [email protected] or call us today on +44 203 2834315.

Boxfusion Consulting are a Platinum Specialized Oracle implementation partner with Oracle Sales Cloud and our team would be delighted to discuss how your organisation can benefit from advanced analytics and business intelligence with Oracle Sales Cloud.