Automated Reporting

By Nicola Rennie in Reporting

Automated reporting is a useful tool in reducing the likelihood of human error, making analysis more transparent, and decreasing the amount of time spent creating repetitive reports. I have extensive experience of creating these types of reports using Quarto and R Markdown.

Reports can be rendered in a variety of formats including HTML documents, PDF reports, Word documents, or presentations. They can be customised and styled according to branding guidelines to give them a more professional finish. Creating parameterised reports means that you can use a set of parameters to create different variations of a report. For example, a report that is created every week to reflect company performance. The example below uses a reusable, custom template to create a monthly report of Capital Bikeshare usage data.

Using Quarto or R Markdown, narrative text can be combined with code to create fully reproducible reports, and automate the reporting process. This example report takes a month and year as input parameters. The YAML at the top of the document defines these parameters, for example:

title: "Capital Bikeshare"
format: capitalPDF-pdf
  year: 2018
  month: 5

These parameters also mean the report can be generated using:

quarto render report.qmd -P year:2018 -P month:5

to create a report for May 2018. Using scheduled GitHub Actions, this report could be generated on the last day of each month, and emailed out to the relevant parties - no manual labour required! My blog post on automating dashboard deployment gives a few more examples of how GitHub Actions can be used to schedule and automate tasks.

You can download a copy of this PDF from my website. You can also view the source code for this report on GitHub.