Streamlining CiviCRM Reports

2014-07-17 11:35
Written by

Reports are one of the primary ways staff get perspective on data in CiviCRM.  Fundraisers can see month-on-month giving patterns.  Event coordinators can review attendance levels at their last three events.  And Communications teams can see which email inspired the most people to take action on a recent petition.  The more access we have to reliable numbers, the more value we are able to get from CiviCRM and apply towards making informed decisions at our organizations.  That’s why streamlining some of the report interfaces has become a priority for the Wikimedia Foundation.

Host to the CiviCRM database with the most contact and contribution records, simple reports take a long time to return results.  Their staff identified several changes to CiviCRM Reports that could make collaboration and analysis much easier for them.  And as strong open source advocates, they want to see these changes contributed back to core for the benefit of other organizations using CiviCRM.  If you have thoughts on any of the following changes, please let us know by leaving a comment below.  Here are also Cucumber-style descriptions of each feature.

My Reports section (mockup)

If you share CiviCRM with a number of other colleagues, your saved reports may be hard to find on the Report Listing page, scattered alongside CiviCRM’s default reports and any reports saved by your colleagues.  This change will add a “My Reports” section to the top of the Reports Listing page that includes reports marked as private to that user.  Reports added to “My Reports” will not appear to other users.

Nested reports menu (mockup)

CiviCRM’s administrative menu is probably the quickest way to get from one part of the application to another.  Since CiviCRM version 4.4, the administrative menu lists Report sections but not individual reports.  Prior to 4.4, the administrative menu listed individual reports.  We’d like to create a menu that combines the advantages of both, so that you can find individual reports nested under their report section.

Select report criteria prior to running report (mockup)

When you click on a report, CiviCRM loads results before you can change the report criteria and filters.  For small databases, this may not cause more than a minute’s delay.  For large databases, the extra step can add anywhere from five to fifteen (and sometimes thirty) extra minutes before a report returns the results you need.  By default, we’d like to give staff the opportunity to set report criteria and filters before choosing to run a report.  

Actions menu (mockup same as above)

Along the same lines, we’d like to give staff access to a wider range of actions on the Reports Listing page.  These actions include exporting results to CSV, printing to PDF, saving a copy, adding Contacts to a Group, etc.  After setting the report criteria and any report filters, staff would also be able to choose one of these actions in lieu of returning results on screen.  This change brings reports in line with action menus found elsewhere in CiviCRM, like the ability to Send Emails from Contact records or Edit Contact records from Search Results.


Add Your Thoughts

We hope these changes will make CiviCRM reports more convenient, especially for staff members working as part of larger teams or with larger databases.  Please let us know if you might have a better solution for accomplishing the same goals with regard to one of the features described above.  We look forward to hearing from you, and again, here are Cucumber-style descriptions of each feature for your review.

Attachment Size
wikimedia_menu_mockup.png39.35 KB 39.35 KB
wikimedia_myreportoptions_mockup_wmf.png125.51 KB 125.51 KB
wikimedia_runreport_mockup_wmf.png49.34 KB 49.34 KB
wikimedia_cucumber_documentation.pdf290.1 KB 290.1 KB
Filed under
Click thumbs up if you thought this blog post was useful (login to vote or to comment)


These improvements sound great. I have some questions: In the new "actions" menu, would the action "Print to PDF" generate one PDF containing all the data ( such as the user might need to give to their boss) or PDF with different pages for each contact ( such as the existing search action "Create PDF Letter". )   I would love to see the later, as the ability to send personalized letters (or emails) to EACH contact listed in the report is sorely needed by many users. (Ideally the user should be able to use their saved message templates and use mail merge tokens in the PDF/emails that are intended for each contact.  ( In some cases a single contact might be listed in the report 2 or more times, in this case there should be a PDF letter for each report row.( ie single contact would get 2 or more letters) 

Thank you for your feedback, Sarah.  Print to PDF under the Actions menu here will generate one PDF containing all data from the report.  If you want to generate PDF letters, the best strategy may be to Create a Group from the report results, do an Advanced Search for contacts in that Group and Create PDF Letters from the other - actions - menu available on search results pages that display contact records.  Let me know if that answers your question or if you have any follow up questions.

This seems a simple request but who knows what all it will take...

There is a real struggle when it comes to being able to create say a list of all the fax numbers, or cell numbers, or work numbers for selected contacts because the only option in the built-in reports it seems is "phone" yet no option for location type (e.g. main, work, home, other...) or phone type (mobile, fax, phone, etc.).

If the scope for updating the built-in reports can't be updated, could someone please at least add or tell us how to create a single custom report allowing choice(s) of location type(s) and phone type(s), so, for example, we could have a list / report of all the contacts' fax numbers.

Thank you in advance, much obliged.  We asked on the forum but received no response.