Importing users with excel

Shortcut: Here is  the user import file template.

It's one of the most frequently asked questions: How do I get my staff set up in Small Improvements? Worry not, it's simpler than you think! Just put together a spreadsheet with your staff data, save it as XLSX or CSV, then drag and drop.

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Other Considerations: 

If you have less than 20 users, it's easiest if you simply invite them manually using the Add Users window. We can also pull data from any other system that can expose user data via an API in the same format described below, and we can in load users from Google Apps. For most companies though, the Excel upload is probably the easiest way.

Note: You must have Tech Admin privileges in order to use this feature. 

Excel File Structure

First you need to create the file, following our guideline below. Then, you will drag & drop it onto our special user-import admin screen. You can take a peek at the user-import-screen help page here. But first, learn about the format of the file you need to create.

The Excel workbook must contain a single sheet with the following structure:

First Name Last Name Gender Title Login Email Manager Email Department Team Location Employee ID Hiring Date

Template and Example

Download our template user import file to get you started.

If you don't use Excel, that's fine - our Import Users tool works perfectly well with any comma, semi-colon or tab-delimited spreadsheet (CSV). 

Mandatory Fields

Your import file needs to contain a handful of "must-have" fields so we can set up users properly.

First Name For example "Joe"
Last Name For example "Smith"
Login Email

For example "joe.smith@company.com"

The user's email address. People will use this to log in to the system, and they will receive mail from Small Improvements here. Note that this email address must be unique for each user, as Small Improvements uses the email address to unambiguously identify specific users.

If some people have no access to email, they can still use Small Improvements, but we do require an email address as their login email.
Manager Email

For example "maria.manager@company.com"

Each user should have a manager, who needs to be identified by his or her email address. Leave blank only for the CEOs. Do not use the manager's name in this field! Names are ambiguous! Email addresses never are, so we want those.

Note that we also support the use of employee IDs to reference managers. For example if you have a user John with employee id 1000, you can set this field to 1000 to set John to the manager of this user.

Optional Fields

We can also read and use some more fields. They are optional, which means you can leave them empty, but the more you provide, the better and more complete everyone's profiles will look.

Gender

This may be M, F or N. We use the gender information to fill in preferred pronouns. This is important to create sentences specific to an individual, for instance "Please tell Rosy what she needs to improve on" instead of "Please tell Rosy what to improve on". If N is indicated, a gender-neutral pronoun will be used.

If you do not provide this field, we'll make an educated guess based on US census data. This will get almost everyone's gender right (our database contains several thousand first names), provided their name is somewhat common in the US.
Title For instance "Senior Manager" or "Intern" or "CEO" or "Nerd herder" or whatever makes sense for your company.
Department We'll assume that Department is the larger organizational unit (e.g. "Marketing", "Sales" or "Engineering").
Team Team is the more fine-grained unit, e.g. "Outbound Sales" vs "Key Accounts" vs "Social Media Marketing", which could all exist within a single department.
Location Could for instance be the city, e.g. "Berlin" or "San Francisco", or a more fine-grained office location ("Building 3", or "Floor 15") if your offices are scattered throughout a single city.
Employee ID We don't use this ID in Small Improvements, but it will be shown for each employee, and will get exported as well. So, if you want to provide it, we'll import it.
Hiring Date Similar to employee ID, this is not used directly by Small Improvements, but can be helpful for context when other users give feedback. So if you have the data, do provide it in the format MM/DD/YY (or YYYY-MM-DD).

If you're also using the optional "alternative email" feature or "secondary reviewer" feature, you may add those columns too.

Configuration Options

There are some configuration options to be aware of when importing, from the configuration tab within the import users screen. 

Overview of these options: 

  • Update existing user core fields (except manager relationship) 

    This setting indicates whether existing users in Small Improvements should be updated by users with matching email addresses from the import data. Enabling this does not affect manager relationships of existing users.

  • Update managers of existing users 

    This setting indicates whether existing users in Small Improvements should have their managers updated based on the given managers from the import data.

  • Set managers of newly imported users 

    This setting indicates whether new users imported to Small Improvements should have their managers imported.

  • Send password emails for new users imported

Password emails can be sent automatically for any new users that you import

  • Deactivate all Small Improvement accounts not imported 

    This setting controls whether SI-accounts will be deactivated if they do not appear in the imported accounts. This allows you to deactivate users in bulk. Warning: if you enable this option, it could cause your administration account to become inaccessible! 

  • Reactivate accounts in Small Improvements 

    This setting controls whether deactivated SI-accounts will be reactivated if the corresponding account is imported. Keep in mind that if you delete a SI user it will get recreated no matter what.

  • CSV Delimiter 

    Allows you to set a field delimiter other than comma. You can use this if your import file is delimited by a semi-colon (European Excel) or Tab.

File Upload

If you made it this far - Congratulations, you can now upload your file into Small Improvements on the User Import screen! Just drag and drop the Excel file to preview the import. 

Typical Problems and Error Cases

There are some common problems to watch out for:

  • Excel "noise": Occasionally excel files can have bits of data that you can see with a quick scan of the eyes, especially if you are copying and pasting from another source. If you run into an error where the system is telling you there are "too many columns", yet you don't see any additional column then the ones we use on the template- You probably got a noise problem.
  • Try: Tabbing over to the last column that you see data in, then the next column over (which looks blank), highlight the whole thing plus roughly 10-20 more blank columns to the right, then delete, save the file, try re-uploading. 
  • Manager's name instead of email: This is the classic mistake. For each employee we need their manager's email address, not just the manager's name. Names can be ambiguous, emails never are.
  • Using inconsistent email addresses: A typical problem is that a Joe Smith has an email address of "Joe@company.com", but his 5 reports are listed as reporting to "joe.smith@company.com". Our system cannot know it's the same person, and thus these 5 people end up with no manager. Please ensure that matching email addresses are used consistently. Double check people who joined the company early on, and who might have more than one email address.
  • Using a less common domain: Some of our customers have more than one email domain, so staff can be reached at maria@company.com and at maria@company.co.uk, for instance. Now if you import the less common form, you'll likely have more people trying the other one, not being able to log in, and thus reporting back that the system doesn't let them in.

Profile Pictures

Profile pictures cannot currently be sent as part of the file. So by default, we set up all users to be represented by the initials of their names.

You can also tell your staff to upload their own pictures when they log in the first time. But it will be much nicer if all your staff already have proper user profile pictures by the time they log in! There are two main ways to achieve this:

  • Perfect for an intern project: You can temporarily give HR permission to an intern and have them upload user profile pictures manually for each person. We feel that's acceptable if you have some 50 to 100 staff. But if you have more employees than that, the intern might start plotting revenge... Try:
  • Have your IT team set up an image server: The best solution will be if IT can set up a web server that delivers an image when prompted. Small Improvements would then simply load a user's image from your intranet image server. For instance, it would load the profile picture of Maria (employee ID 10023) from the URL https://intranet.company.com/image?userId=10023. Learn more about setting up an image server.

Training Your Staff

After you have imported your users, you should tell your staff about Small Improvements, and let them know what parts you will be using with your company. We strongly recommend you train your staff face to face, explaining why you picked Small Improvements and how to use it. We suggest you do this in groups of 20 people or less. Yes, it can be time consuming, but your staff will love you for it and you'll have less questions to answer later on. 30 minutes should definitely be enough per group.

Letting People Know About Their New Accounts

Once you have imported your staff, you have a populated system - you can decide to email users automatically with a welcome email. You'll just need to enable this option in the configuration setup page. 

You can also decide to send emails manually. You may want to customize that email as well. You will find more information on our How to inform staff about their accounts page.

 

Get In Touch

It might be a little tough to import users the first time - perhaps some data is missing, or a manager's email address has two variants that are used inconsistently ("bbridges@ymprove.com" vs "bob.bridges@ymprove.com"), or some manager does not exist at all (making it impossible to set them as someone else's manager). If you are having any trouble at all, please get in touch with our support team - we are more than happy to help you through the process and make sure your users get imported quickly and correctly.

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