Processing multiple Excel templates from email through a single flow

A common Parabola use case involves processing email attachments (in this case, Excel files) from multiple vendors through a single flow.

You might have three carriers emailing you Excel shipment reports, and want to build a single flow (starting with a “Pull from Email Attachment” step) to process them all. Because each file includes different column headers and formats, this becomes a challenge.

If you’re still learning Parabola or trying to process a small number of file templates, we strongly recommend creating one flow per format as this will be the fastest and easiest approach to implement.

If you are trying to build one flow that processes Excel attachments originating in multiple formats, here is some guidance:

The best approach for accomplishing this workflow involves using a combination of the “Pull from Email” and filter rows steps to branch your flow based on the sender/subject/file name. The flow will start with two steps at the start of your flow, both pulling data from email – one pulling in an attachment, the other pulling in the email subject, body, sender, and file name.

After pulling in the data, you can merge the datasets together to make the email’s metadata repeat on every line of the data from the attachment (in your “Add Text Column” step, you can add any arbitrary value – just needs to be the same in both spots so you have a consistent value to merge based on).

Once all of the data is combined, you can then build filter rules based on the email metadata, and have different branches of the flow built out to parse different document types.

Important note: Even if there are 0 rows of data in a branch, Parabola steps rely on column names mentioned in their settings to process. You’ll likely need to include an “Add Text Columns” step in each branch where you create ‘placeholder’ columns. For instance, the step would say “Add column called Shipment ID; skip if column already exists.”

Here’s an example structure:

Comment below if you run into any questions building this out!