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My organization uses CiviCRM and we are contemplating moving away from it, but before we make that decision I wanted to canvass this site for some information. I'm not incredibly familiar with the inner-workings of the software, so bear with me.

Currently, we have lots of users (around 400) who have access to Civi via specific groups with specific permissions. One complaint that we get is that it's cumbersome to run reports. Most run only membership reports, but in order to do that they have to enter their search criteria every time (Associated chapter, date range, membership types, Current Members, etc.). Is there a way to format the UI so that when those users log in that they have button that says "Run Membership Report" or "Run Contributions Report" that has pre-filled parameters based on their specific permissions? Or are stuck with the dropdown menu search and cumbersome process?

Is there a Civi addon that formats search results into graphic reports or graphs/charts?

Also, is it possible to auto-run reports at a set period (say monthly) and have them emailed to a particular contact associated with a particular chapter/org?

Thanks!

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Since you are using Drupal, I would also suggest considering how much you can save most users getting in to CiviCRM at all, and providing a lot of the UI via Views and Webforms. We have done this for chapter based organisation, and this has often involved using the Permissioned Relationships extension to provide the ACL.

The outcome is that the user can have a (menu) block with links to all the things they most commonly need to access and do so purely by visiting Views and Webforms

  • Yes, with this approach they don't need to interact with Civi directly. You can give them the reports they want in a controlled way but let them make certain choices (like date range) as 'exposed filters'. If Civi has an association between the user and their Chapter, you could automatically make use of that in the View. – Aidan Jan 27 '17 at 23:16
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Regarding reports, it is possible to create an instance of a report (Administer > CiviReport > Create new report from template) that includes the fields, filtering and grouping options, etc., and to save it so that it can be reused directly from a menu item. Individual users can also add these personalized reports to their user dashboard as reportlets. And although the dashlets are in narrow columns by default, they can be popped out into a form overlay by clicking at the top right, and then that can be expanded as large as your screen and preferences allow.

With a small bit of custom coding it would be possible to make some links to user created reports available to the same user or to groups of users - one would need to explore your use cases more here.

There are some visualization options in the default reports, and CiviVisualize extension also has some others. As reporting needs tend to be less standard than other IT functions, it's an area where you might want to invest in some customization. Lots of folks wanting good visualization, like charts based on pivot tables, find exporting data into Excel useful. If you have a way you like the data to appear in Excel, it is a small customization to take your Excel template and have CiviCRM populate it with the current data and present it in your browser for download or mail it on a schedule to specific recipients. We have also changed from the default of mailing to specific users to emailing reports to members of a group, eg chapter heads, with parameters that change based on, eg, their chapter.

In your comment replying to Erik, I see you have chapter leads. Are you aware that you can set up CiviCRM permissions so that they are chapter based, eg a chapter leader sees only their chapter's members when in CiviCRM?

I'd encourage you to engage a CiviCRM expert provider to help you get the most out of CiviCRM, and perhaps invest in small small custom tweaks to really make it work for your specific use cases.

  • We have it set up so those in the "Chapter Leader Admin" group can view only their info. They just have a tough time updating and viewing the things they need (Relationships, Contacts, etc) – Anthony Duncan Feb 2 '17 at 0:57
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All you request is possible Anothoy, but will require a little configuration. You can get a report mailed to you regularly, check https://docs.civicrm.org/user/en/4.6/reporting/what-you-need-to-know/.

If you want to change the UI you might need to customize some forms, either in CiviCRM or in your CMS (which one are you using?). At the moment you can not configure the UI to create buttons, but these are not big customizations.

Good luck! My personal advice would be if these are the only reasons to change CRM you are probably looking at a far bigger cost to change!

  • Thanks for the reply. We are using Drupal and Civi is incorporated into our website. We have customized forms for users based on their permissions, but it still doesn't work the way they would like as it's still too cumbersome of a process. We don't necessarily want to switch to another platform (Salesforce, StarChapter, etc) because they are costly solutions, but if Civi can't meet our chapter leader needs, then we may have to. – Anthony Duncan Jan 27 '17 at 16:53
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    I'll try once more :-) You will probably need some customization so find a partner that can help you? It will be a lot cheaper than implementing a new solution. In general there are very few cases where you HAVE to, you usually have choices :-) – ErikH - CiviCooP Jan 30 '17 at 7:09

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