Using Vista to Document Your Reports

With all of the reports in Vista, including those provided by PDS and those created in-house, it can be difficult to remember everything that is available.

Utilizing the description field in report set-up allows you to quickly see what each report can do. Added bonus – maintaining your report descriptions also allows you to create a very helpful report that describes each report in your library!

The first thing you need to do is make sure the description field for each report is updated with a description of the report. Each report has its own description tab which may be accessed through Report Maintenance or Edit Mode within Reports. At Norton Rose Fulbright, we have a standard description layout that we use for each report we create. The description includes: the name of the report, an overview of the report, the fields that are displayed, any selection criteria and a notes section. The final thing we include is a screen snip-it of each report.

This is a sample of a report description for one of our headcount reports. As you can see, we use HTML to add emphasis to certain sections of the description.

Top of Description
Click here for larger image

Bottom of Description 
Click here for larger image

The HTML to create the above report description is as follows:

Header:   <font color = black><h3>99 Personnel Strength Report</h3>

Overview:  Counts all classes of employees for each location and breaks out separately those classified to GL 99. Report allows for excluding seconded, contract or temporary. Ratios calculating attorney to non-attorney and others are included. Uses full-time-equivalency (FTE) for count.<br ><br>

Fields Displayed in Report:

<b>Information Displayed</br><br></b>
<table border=”2″  cellspacing=”5″ cellpadding=”5″><tr><td> Count by Class</td><td>Count by Location</td><td>Timecard Ratios</td></tr></table><br>

Selection Criteria for Report:

<b>Selection Criteria</br><br></b>
<table border=”2″  cellspacing=”5″ cellpadding=”5″><tr><td>Exclude People</td></tr></table>

Notes and Tips for the Report:


<ul><li>Headcount reports are run each month and archived</li><li>The g/l number is found on the labor page<li>FTE is found on the employees position</li><li>This report will not export to excel without manipulation</li><li>Click on the Report tab to enter parameters</li><li>Tag entries in list boxes of selection criteria for multiple selections</li></ul></font>

Image of the Report:

<IMG SRC=”/static/infocenter/homepage/rptpics/psr99.png” <br><br>

Once your descriptions have been created for your reports, you can create a report of these descriptions by performing the following steps.

  1. Run the attached SQL statement (click here for SQL for creating report description link). This SQL statement can be revised to return any report subset that is desired.
  2. Save the results as txt, but type .html in the file name as the file type.
  3. Open the HTML file in notepad. Depending on where you stored the screenshots of your reports and where you plan to put the new HTML file you just created, you may need to update the relative URLs (the paths) to the images. For example, we replace “/static/” with nothing everywhere in the file (CTRL + H), because we save the HTML file to the static directory.  The HTML file just needs to be able to access the images. If you do not have images in your description, you may skip this step.
  4. Open the HTML file in a browser.
  5. Go to Print Preview to format the file. It may take a while to create the preview and refresh depending on the size of your file.
  6. There are some optional changes you may want to make to improve the formatting of your report. These include changing the margins and removing the footer.

7. Print to pdf.

Your pdf should look similar to the report sample we have included here. Report definitions can easily be provided to people in different security groups. For example, if you wanted to provide the report definitions for all the benefit reports to your benefits team, all you would need to do is edit the SQL statement to include just the benefit reports. The next step for Norton Rose Fulbright is to create definitions for all of our ES jobs.

The credit for the report description process goes to Laura Regan, our Senior HRIS Analyst, whose creativity has allowed us to provide our users with some valuable information.

Meribeth Carter
Co-Chair, PDS UGA and
Director of Human Resources
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP