Absorb provides powerful and flexible reporting capabilities directly in the admin portal. If the built-in reports do not meet your needs however, a custom data export can be created (sometimes referred to as a "Custom Report"). These exports can be delivered by email or secure FTP, with data included to meet your specific business needs. In addition to custom admin reporting, this is also a great solution for automatically feeding data from Absorb into an external application (e.g. Salesforce, Workday, etc).
It's very important to note that these data exports are not on-demand reports and include no user interface (aside from whatever application you may use to open, view and/or edit the export file itself). Not what you're after? You may be interested in our full service Business Intelligence offering.
We'll walk you through the following steps to scope and develop a custom data export:
- Pre-scoping: Your Client Success Manager will work with you to gather background and requirements. At this point we're usually looking to confirm that a custom data export really is the best solution for you, and if so, what you want the export to look like. Please provide a mock-up or sample of the desired export at this time. Our development team may do a preliminary investigation at this time if the request is particularly complex or non-standard.
- Requirements Document: Your Client Success Manager will work with you to fill out the Data Export Requirements Document. The completion and approval of this document allows the work to be added to our development queue.
- Analysis: Our development team will review the completed requirements document for completeness and clarity. Additional questions may be asked at this time.
- Development: A developer creates a sample report, usually from data in your production Absorb portal.
- Review: Your Client Success Manager will provide the sample and request feedback.
- Revision (Optional): If any changes are required, let your Client Success Manager know. A new sample will be provided after revisions are made.
- Approval: If everything looks good, provide your Client Success Manager with written approval to proceed to deployment.
- Scheduling & Deployment: Once approved, the report is set to run on whatever schedule was defined in the requirements document.
- Confirmation: We'll ask for final confirmation once the report is running in production and formally close out the request.
What fields or filters can be included?
Most any field that you can view in the LMS can be included in an export. In addition to the types of filters that you're used to adding through the Absorb admin interface like "Date Added is last month", more advanced filters like "Date Added is last month AND (Department = HR OR Employee Number contains ABC)" can usually be supported. Depending on the combination of fields, filters, and volume of data that will be included, sometimes we may suggest alternatives that are more efficient to generate. Our development team will advise you if anything needs to be changed after reviewing your requirements. Please also review the "What's not supported?" section at the bottom.
Simple aggregation is generally supported. Choose the field(s) that you would like to group records by, and then the aggregate method for the other fields. For example you might say "Give me all enrollments for courses in the "Project Management" category, grouped by unique user, with the score displayed as an average across all applicable enrollments for that user". Not sure if you need this? Provide a sample and description of what you're looking for and we can confirm during the scoping process.
Cumulative vs. Deltas
The majority of our data exports are generated as delta files. Delta files will only contain data that has changed since the last time a file was sent, rather than sending a complete extract each time. This is usually accomplished by applying some kind of date filter to the report, for example by only including course enrollments with a Date Completed of yesterday for a report that runs daily. Full extracts are usually not possible because the file will grow too large and generation time will eventually be too long.
Exports can be delivered by email, FTP, or both. A distribution list controlled by the client is usually preferred for email delivery, so that the individual recipients can easily be changed without our intervention. Files larger than 10MB cannot be emailed. More information about FTP delivery can be found in our FTP Support for Integrations article.
Exports can be scheduled to run daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. The specific time that we start generating the export is usually very early in the morning (~1 - 5am) North American Mountain Time, though different times can be requested if needed. Schedules are somewhat dependent on the type and amount of data being generated, and are subject to approval by Absorb.
Files are generated in CSV format, delimited by commas by default (other delimiters such as Semicolon (;) and Pipe/Bar (|) can be used upon request). Below are a few visual examples opened in a text editor and Microsoft Excel, though keep in mind that sometimes these exports are meant to simply be imported by another application and not read by a human:
Sample Enrollments Export:
- Text Editor:
Comments: In the example above, HRID could represent a number of things:
- A custom column header for a column containing the user's External ID
- A custom user field named HRID
- A custom column header for a column containing some other user field (likely some kind of unique identifier)
Sample Courses Export:
- Text Editor:
What's not supported?
There are some things a data export can't do, listed here in no particular order:
- Data exports are always scheduled or one-time. There is no interface available for requesting the export on demand.
- Data exports are plain text, formatted as character separated values, generally with a .csv or .txt extension. Other formats such as Excel (e.g. .xls), XML, PDF, etc. are not supported.
- As a result of the above, text formatting, images, cell highlighting, etc. are not supported.
- Advanced or custom calculations/formulas are not supported. Basic aggregate columns such as min, max, sum, average, etc. are generally supported (in SQL terms, this would be a "group by"). Feasibility will be scoped and confirmed by Absorb.
- Conditional logic such as "if column A equals "ABC" then populate column B with value "XYZ"”.
- Dynamically generated columns such as "add one column for each course taken" - we will usually suggest a way of restructuring your report to avoid this.
- Dynamically generating multiple versions of a report for each admin user, with different data included for each user depending on their User Management settings.