Welcome to “Five Things for Salesforce Admins”— a blog series where we dive into various Salesforce features and talk about five ways you may not have thought about using them before!
Relative Dates are one of those Salesforce features that completely changed the way I thought about List Views and Reports and Dashboards that I had created. When I found out about this feature for the first time, I was floored because I could tell what an amazingly useful tool this is! I knew I could find a way to teach all my users to use Relative Dates so that their lists, reports, and dashboards were always current. So, let’s dig in and explore what exactly Relative Dates are, and how you can use them in your Salesforce org.
What are Relative Dates?
This Salesforce Help article about Relative Dates explains them in more detail, but the short version is that instead of using a specific date like 4/1/2019, you can use a “relative” date like “TODAY”, “NEXT WEEK”, “LAST QUARTER”, and so on. You can immediately see how these are useful in reports, because you can simply plug in a relative date filter and your report is always current. Capitalization doesn’t matter in relative date filter operators. “THIS YEAR” works, as do “This Year” and “this year.”
Why are Relative Dates So Useful for Admins?
They can help you build reports and dashboards faster. Additionally, you can “build once, use forever” since relative dates will always be current. They’ll help with data quality, so you don’t have users creating reports and then forgetting about them. And of course, your users will be thankful too, since they will always see the current information on a report or dashboard.
1. Relative Dates in List Views
This was my first a-ha moment when I learned about Relative Dates for the first time. It was also the one my users resonated most with (before they rebuilt reports – in the next section!) because they could do it themselves! It’s super simple to add a relative date filter criteria to any of your existing list views. Take a look at this Opportunity List View with the criteria of “CLOSE DATE EQUALS NEXT MONTH” added. Anywhere your users have list views that use some sort of date-based criteria, make sure they know about relative dates. One of my users even had printed out the Help article I mentioned above and had it next to their monitor. You could make a “Dates Cheat Sheet” for YOUR users to help them out, or just print out the help article above and leave it somewhere visible.
2. Relative Dates in Reports
You probably saw this one coming, as this is the next obvious use case. Below is an example of the same set of Opportunities, but shown in a report rather than a List View. And if you want to just filter on “Year to Date,” don’t worry, you just need to have 2 filters: “DATE EQUALS THIS YEAR” and “DATE LESS THAN OR EQUAL TO TODAY.” More information is in this help article.
3. Relative Dates in Dashboard Filters
Another great use case for Relative Dates is on a Dashboard, specifically within a Dashboard Filter. If you’re not using Dashboard Filters already, definitely take a look at them. They can be extremely handy for keeping your dashboard relevant to people looking at it. Example areas for filters are things like a Region or Territory, a Role or Management Chain, and of course, our old friend Dates. One thing to note is that Dashboard Filters filter EVERY component on your dashboard, so bear that in mind when creating them.
4. Relative Dates in Macros
If you’re not using Macros, then you’re missing out on an awesome productivity feature, so definitely check out this Trailhead module to learn more about them. But, did you know that another place you can use Relative Dates is within a Macro? This is a little different from the date filters above. Relative dates here allow you to create tasks which are dated relative to today’s date, time, or date and time.
5. Relative Dates in Process Builder
Finally, you can also use Relative Dates within your Process Builder Criteria with a little help from our friend Formula Builder. Although you technically can’t use relative dates as-is, you can use Date formulas to accomplish much the same thing. Here is an example of a Task that is created when an Opportunity Closes, and the Due Date is set to a formula: “TODAY() + 7” which is a week after the opp stage changes to Closed Won. Here is a release notes article with more information about how to use this.
And there you have it! Five ideas about fun places to use relative dates if you’re not already using them. Do you have ideas about fun, innovative, or cool ways to use Salesforce features that I haven’t thought about yet? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (I’m @mbaizman 👋🏽), and your ideas might make it into a new “Five Things” post!