How-To: Distributing Report Books via Email

Automatically distribute Vena reports by email using Report Books to actively engage your stakeholders.


Why use this feature?

As you implement Vena processes in your organization, you may have a need to share reports with stakeholders. Report Books was developed to serve these unique users, by making their usage as frictionless as possible.

Report Books allows you to automatically distribute reports generated by Vena to specific report consumers, either on demand, or whenever the associated reporting task is reached. Your recipients will receive an email notification with a link for them to log in to Vena and directly access the report download. Meaning that the learning curve for users who exclusively report consumers is kept to a minimum, in turn lowering support demand for your Vena processes.

In this article, you will learn how to create and distribute Report Books.


Before you begin

To set up and use Report Books, you will need to have Manager access. If Data Permissions are set up on your tenant, you will also require the appropriate permissions for data contained within the report forms you will be working with. To check on the distribution status of Report Books, you will also require Modeler access.

All intended recipients of your Report Books will need their own Vena accounts with at least Contributor or Viewer access.


Table of contents


How to

Before you can use Report Books, it must first be enabled in your Vena environment. For help enabling Report Books, please contact your Vena Customer Success Manager.

Part 1: Creating & Modifying Report Books

The Report Books feature is a part of the Process Designer, specifically within the Report Details options on any Report Block. Report Books are configured for Report Blocks on a one-to-one basis, which means that you set up a Report Book for an individual Report Block, and the settings you configure for that Report Book apply only to that specific Report Block.

You can add a Report Book to an existing Report Block, or set one up as part of creating a new Report Block. To add a Report Book to any new or existing Report Block, or to modify a previously set up Report Book, follow these instructions:

  1. Navigate to the Manager tab.
  2. Select the process you want to modify.
  3. On the Designer View, double-click the Report Task to which you would like to add a Report Book, or which contains the Report Book you want to modify to view Report Details.
  4. Select the Report Books tab.
  5. Select + Create a Report Book button. This will open the Report Books Wizard, which you will use to configure the Report Book.

Part 2: Configuring Report Books

The Report Books Wizard breaks the configuration process down into four steps. These steps are shown in the navigation bar at the top of the pop-up, with the currently active step highlighted in blue. The steps are:

  1. Settings: Choose a name and description for the Report Book and select recipients.
  2. File Options: Choose the report and page options to be distributed.
  3. Schedule: Enable or disable automatic distribution of the Report Book when the Report Task is reached in your process.
  4. Summary: Review your settings, check for validation issues, manually start the distribution if desired and/or test the Report by sending it to yourself.

The Report Books Wizard walks you through each step; to proceed to the next step, simply click the Next button at the bottom right-hand side of the drawer. You can also select any of the steps at the top to go there directly.


I. Settings

To rename the report book:

  1. Select New Report Book.
  2. Type in a new name.
  3. Press ENTER on your keyboard to complete the input.

You can also insert a Process Variable in the Report Book name. To do this, type the name of the Process Variable into the Name/Subject field within curly brackets, replacing any spaces with underscores (e.g. {process_variable_name}). The actual variable will only be displayed when the Report Book has been distributed.

To add a custom description (optional):

Select the description text box and enter a custom description (e.g., "The following reports are available for your review."). While optional, the description entered here is provided to the recipients of the Report Book in the notification email and can be helpful for providing context about the included report.

  1. Select the recipients of the Report Book. Recipients are the users that will receive an email when the distribution is run. You can choose either:
    • All Report Watchers to include users already selected as Watchers on the Report Task.
    • Selected Users if you only want specific users or user groups to receive the Report Book. If you choose Selected Users, type in the name(s) of the user(s) or user group(s), then select the user in the drop-down to add them to the list. Selected users/user groups will appear in the input field.
  2. Select Next: File Options to proceed to the next step. 


II. File Options

  1. Choose which report form you would like to distribute using the Select a form dropdown.
    • You can choose from among any of the report forms attached to the Report Task.
    • Only one report form can be selected per Report Book; if multiple reports need to be distributed for a Report Block, you can create additional Report Books under the Report Books tab in the Report Task.
  2. Select which Section of the report form to be distributed using the dropdown.
  3. Under Split into, choose whether you want the selected page option combinations to be distributed as Tabs or as Files.
    • The Tabs option splits the page option combinations into different worksheets/tabs within the same Excel workbook/file.
    • The Files option splits the page option combinations into separate Excel workbooks/files.
  4. Use the Page Option selector area to choose a combination of page option members to include in your Report Book.
  5. To assemble combinations of page option members, select one of the selector boxes to see a list of available members for each dimension, then select a member to add it as a Page Option. You can also filter the list by typing a full or partial member name into the selector box. 
    • This section is dynamic, and will display each dimension for which page options have been configured on the report form as a separate selector box (up to a maximum of four).
    • You can add multiple page option members per dimension by simply repeating this step.
    • Alternatively, you can also choose the Dynamic option if you would like to use a large number of page options. Only one dimension may be set as Dynamic. For more information about this option, see the Notes section.
  6. Repeat the last step until you have selected at least one page option member for each dimension shown.
  7. When you have chosen the desired Page Options, select Add Selected. This will add the combination to the Tabs/Files table as a new row. 
    • If you selected multiple members for any dimension(s) in step 5, this will automatically create all possible combinations of the selected members from all dimensions as individual rows. The number of combinations that will be added to the table is shown to the left of the Add Selected button.
    • Each tab/file in the Report Book will have an automatically generated name. If you would like to change the name, simply select the name and type a new name into the text field.
    • To delete a row, select the delete icon, which will remove that tab or file from the Report Book.
    • You can also filter the table by typing into the Filter box.
  8. When you have finished setting up page option combinations (i.e., all the table rows reflect the tabs/files you want to include in the Report Book), select Next: Schedule to proceed to the next step.


III. Schedule 

  1. Select the toggle next to Send automatically when Report Task is reached to choose whether or not you want the Report Book to be distributed automatically.
    • Selecting the checkbox will send out your Report Book by email to all selected recipients when the Report Task it is attached to is reached in your workflow.
    • Leaving the checkbox unselected will disable automatic distribution. Choose this option if you only want the Report Book to be distributed on demand (manually).
  2. Select Next: Summary to proceed to the next step.04Sched.jpg


IV. Summary 

  1. On the final page of the Report Books Wizard, review the summary of the Report Book, including the chosen name and description, report form and options, scheduling setting and number of user(s).
  2. If everything is set up as intended, you can test your Report Book by selecting Send me a report.
    • If you need to make any changes to your Report Book, simply select the appropriate step in the Report Books Wizard, or use the Previous button to navigate to the right step.
  3. If you want to immediately distribute the Report Book manually, select Distribute Reports to all, which will email all selected recipients.
    • This can be used at any time, even if scheduling has been specified.
    • You do not need to open the Report Books Wizard each time you want to distribute a Report Book. See Part 3: Distributing & Managing Report Books below for instructions on how to do routine manual distribution.


Part 3: Distributing & Managing Report Books

Once you have created your Report Books, you can begin distributing them right away. If you set up scheduling in Part 2, your Report Books will be distributed automatically whenever the Report Task is reached in your process, and you do not need to do anything further. However, if you need to distribute reports manually on an on-demand basis, you can do this by following these instructions:

  1. Navigate to the Manager tab.
  2. Select the desired process. This opens the Designer view.
  3. Double-click on the Report Task with the Report Book that you want to distribute to view the Report Details.
  4. Select the Report Books tab. This displays a list of the Report Books you have configured on this Report Task.
  5. Select a Report Book to highlight it and see additional options.
  6. To distribute a single Report Book: select the checkbox located on the left of the row, then select Run to distribute only the selected Report Book.
  7. To distribute multiple Report Books at the same time, select the checkbox next to the Report Books you want to distribute, then select Run to begin the distribution.
  8. Keep in mind that you must repeat steps 1-7 for Report Books that are in different Report Tasks and/or processes.

Viewing Report Books

When a Report Book is distributed, each recipient receives an email from Vena to notify them that a Report Book is available for download. The email contains the name of the Report Book as well as the description that you entered when configuring the Report Book, if available.

The email also provides a link to the file download, which is used by the recipient to conveniently access the report without having to navigate through the Vena interface. To ensure data safety, clicking on the download link takes the recipient to the Vena login page, where they must first enter their user credentials before they can download the report. As a result, only the designated recipient of the email can access the report download link, and the download link cannot be forwarded to other users.

Additionally, the data displayed within Report Books is also subject to any data permissions configured within Vena. If a recipient receives a Report Book containing any tabs or files with data which they do not have the appropriate permissions to view, those tabs or files will not be included in the Report Book.

After successfully logging in to Vena, the recipient is presented with a landing page displaying a direct download link for the file.

Once they arrive at the landing page, all the recipient needs to do is select the Download button to download the report file, which they can then open in Excel. As the report has already been processed for the recipient on the server, installing Vena Desktop for Excel is not necessary to view it.

As with the email links, opening any item shown in the Reports section opens the landing page for that Report Book and allows the user to download the report directly.


Notes & best practices

  • When mapping a report form which you intend to distribute as a Report Book, remember to configure four or fewer dimensions with selectable page options, as the Report Books Wizard supports a maximum of four page option dimensions.
  • For best results, it is recommended that you remove any non-essential worksheets (e.g., instruction sheets, reference sheets) that do not contribute to the report functionality from any report form that will be included in a Report Book. This is because each of these non-essential sheets will also be duplicated for each set of page option member combinations that you construct.
  • Instead of (or in addition to) Excel files, you can also include PowerPoint decks in your Report Books. The setup process is the same as for an Excel file.
  • When choosing the page option member combinations (i.e., tabs or files) to include in a Report Book, keep in mind that too large a number may make the Report Book difficult to use for recipients.
  • Choosing the Dynamic option in the page options selection will set the selected dimension as "dynamic", which means that you do not choose page options for this dimension directly. Instead, the dynamic page option represents multiple page options, one for each member of the selected dimension that is mapped on the chosen report. This option can only be set on one dimension. For all other dimensions, choose page options as normal.The Dynamic option is useful if you want to quickly create a large number of page options or if you often make changes to the dimension you set as dynamic. In the latter case, you will not need to update your Report Books every time you modify the data model or map different members to the report, as the appropriate page options are updated in the Report Book automatically (provided that the changes affect the dimension set as dynamic).
  • If you would like to set different page option choices for various reports, create a new Report Book for each report form. Individual emails will be sent to the recipients for each Report Book distribution.
  • The user who creates and edits a Report Book must have data permissions for all data contained within the included report form(s).
  • Only users designated as the recipient of the Report Book can download and view the file. The distribution email cannot be forwarded to another user to view if he/she is not a designated recipient. However, note that recipients can download/save a local copy of the report and forward it.

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