Everything you need to know about PowerPoint automation [Free downloadable resource pack]

Over the course of this post, we'll cover everything from the basics of what PowerPoint automation is to the nitty-gritty details of picking the right automation tool for your needs.

October 9, 2023
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In today's fast-paced business world, time is of the essence. Whether you're a market researcher striving to meet tight deadlines, a team lead preparing weekly or monthly KPI reports, or a customer success manager preparing performance reports for your clients, one thing is certain: PowerPoint automation can be your secret weapon.

In this post we’re going to deep dive into the world of automating PowerPoint reports. We're here to empower you with the knowledge and tools you need to find and implement the perfect automation strategy for your team or business.

Over the course of this post, we'll cover everything from the basics of what PowerPoint automation is to the nitty-gritty details of picking the right automation tool for your needs. We'll talk about the perks of automating PowerPoint reports and how to prep your reports for automation.

Together, we'll work smarter, not harder. Let's get started!

Understanding PowerPoint automation: streamlining report creation

PowerPoint automation is a cutting-edge technological process that empowers businesses to rapidly generate professional PowerPoint presentations directly from various data sources. Whether you need to pull data from Excel spreadsheets, SQL databases, or external APIs, PowerPoint automation can be your go-to solution for effortlessly crafting presentations.

The primary objective of PowerPoint automation is to eliminate, or at the very least significantly reduce, the need for manual labour. It accomplishes this by automating the entire process of slide creation, following predefined rules and formatting instructions. The result? Reports that are not only accurate, but also maintain a consistent level of quality and design.

At its core, PowerPoint automation is all about boosting efficiency and precision in report creation. By automating the repetitive and time-consuming aspects of presentation building, it liberates your valuable staff resources, enabling them to redirect their efforts towards more critical and strategic tasks.

the benefits of auomating PowerPoint Reporting

The benefits of automating PowerPoint reports

Save time:

Automating your PowerPoint presentations cuts out hours of manual formatting and data copying. Some clients have slashed overall report production time by over 80%.

Happy stakeholders:

Automated reporting means more time for meaningful insights and on-time deliveries, keeping stakeholders satisfied.

Review KPIs more often:

Full automation allows for more frequent KPI reviews, aiding in proactive issue-spotting and informed strategy decisions.

Save money:

Cutting report production time equals less spending on employee time, and our ROI calculator can show you just how much that adds up to.

Increase profit margins:

With report automation, you can boost profit margins by reducing delivery costs while charging the same amount for your service. It's a win-win!

Avoid recruitment:

For larger teams, automation ensures consistent delivery without the headache of recruitment and hiring.

Remove human error:

Automation eliminates human error, guaranteeing accurate and up-to-date reports every time. Plus, it reduces the need for extensive quality checks before delivery.

Produce consistent outputs:

PowerPoint automation ensures consistent formats and styles across multiple reports, enhancing brand consistency.

benefits of automating PowerPoint reporting slide pack

Download the free resources pack, including a "Benefits of Report Automation" slide pack that you can use to help you obtain the budget you need to get this initiative off the ground.

6 steps to create an automation brief

Crafting an Automation Brief before kicking off a project ensures a clear understanding of the goals and objectives from the outset. Here are some key topics to think about while composing your brief:

1. Define the objective:

Start by clarifying your automation objective, ensuring it aligns with a meaningful business outcome. Consider the potential time and cost savings that automation could bring to your business.

2. Identify stakeholders:

Pinpoint the key stakeholders and their roles in the project, including those involved in data collection and review. Ensuring their inclusion in your brief helps determine their needs, the potential impact of the solution on others, and who should be part of the discussion.

3. Evaluate internal resources:

Check for in-house expertise in PowerPoint automation and identify where external help might be needed, like leveraging an enthusiastic Python pro for API solutions instead of outsourcing or buying software.

4. Set a budget:

Determine your project budget upfront to avoid surprises and narrow down your solution choices effectively.

5. Define timelines:

Establish a clear project timeline to ensure everyone knows when their contributions are due, making it easier to hold individuals accountable and manage expectations.

6. Perform a report audit:

Before diving into automation, conduct a thorough review of repeatable reports in your organization. This will uncover opportunities for automating PowerPoint reports and potentially reveal other valuable automation prospects across various projects. More on that later!

We've gone ahead and popped all of this into a simple-to-use report automation brief template that is completely free to download. Add your name and email below to receive the download link.

Report automation brief template

PowerPoint automation tools and alternative solutions

When it comes to PowerPoint automation, there are a bunch of tools out there to make your life easier. From handy plugins to APIs and custom Python solutions, we've got you covered. Let's take a look at a few options and see what works best for different situations.

1. Full data automation tools from third parties


  • Self-service, work on your own time
  • Easy to manage cost
  • Use on multiple projects/reports


  • Limited customization options
  • Steep learning curve
  • Typically expensive

2. PowerPoint report design tools from third parties


  • Easy to use, intuitive graphical designer
  • Plenty of customization options available
  • Cost-effective pricing plans


  • Can be limited in scope and functionality
  • Steep learning curve
  • Help to create presentations but don't automate repeatable production

3. PowerPoint plugins from third parties


  • Easier to use than VBA or coding in Python
  • Cost-effective pricing plans
  • Easy integration with existing Office applications


  • Plugin features may be limited
  • Limited control over code or customization options

4. Using an API from a third party


  • Incredibly flexible
  • Ability to create custom scripts and logic
  • Control over code and automation processes
  • Cost-effective pricing plans


  • Technical skills and understanding required
  • Some features may be missing (although, I would recommend contacting the team if you can't find what you need.)

5. Writing VBA


  • Control over the presentation creation process
  • Inexpensive


  • Knowledge of VBA required
  • Limited customization compared to API/ Python
  • Can lead to very heavy files that are slow to execute

6. Writing Python code


  • Huge levels of flexibility
  • Fast production times
  • Completely customizable


  • Technical knowledge of Python programming language required
How to identify PowerPoint reports that can be automated

How to identify PowerPoint reports that can be automated

5 simple questions to answer that will determine whether a PowerPoint report can be automated:

1. Who currently produces the report and how are they doing it?

Start by figuring out who's currently responsible for creating the report and how they're doing it. This helps you see if any parts of the process can stay the same or if a complete overhaul is possible, helping to define the project's scope and feasibility.

2. How often is the report repeated?

Consider how often the report needs to be generated. If it's a recurring task, especially if it's needed periodically, automating it can be a smart move. Think about how many reports are needed each time – automation can be a lifesaver, especially in scenarios like producing the same report for numerous markets in international studies, where manual work would be a nightmare.

3. Does the report change?

It's important to understand the nature of the report before you decide whether it should be automated or not. If it is a static report then automation is far easier, but that doesn't mean that dynamic reports are impossible to automate.

4. Is the data consistent?

For a successful PowerPoint automation project, it does help if the data is consistent. Predictable data changes are manageable, but random and unpredictable data changes can make automation challenging.

5. Where does the data come from?

Think about the data's origin, be it an internal database, an external CRM system, or a manual process involving a data processing team. This understanding guides you in selecting the right automation tools and methods for data access. Utilizing available expertise can also streamline data collection and manipulation during report production.

Conducting a full audit of your PowerPoint reports:

Before you get started, it would be useful to complete a full audit of the PowerPoint reports that are regularly produced within your team or company-wide. You may uncover that there is a wider opportunity to automate reporting across multiple projects, allowing you to share the budget and avoid duplicating workloads in the future.

We've created a Report Audit Template to help you get started.

PowerPoint Report Audit Template

PowerPoint automation use cases

Indico Labs provides a comprehensive suite of automation solutions and services to help you generate PowerPoint reports in a fraction of the time it would take to manually populate decks.

Custom solutions:

1. Preconfigured automation


This approach involves updating a fixed set of slides repeatedly without any involvement from the client. The content within these slides, such as shapes/objects (charts/tables), may change or grow (for example, adding new data for each wave), but the total number of slides remains the same. Essentially, it's like a template that gets updated with new information.

Common use cases:

  • Regular Market Research brand trackers.
  • Multi-audience Market Research reports, such as international studies that require the same deck to be repeated for each country.
  • Regular reports for management/board meetings.
  • Regular KPI reports, e.g. sales, marketing, finance etc.
  • Financial reporting,
  • and generally, any report that follows the same repeatable structure.

2. Flexible automation


The Indico Labs automation experts specialize in building custom solutions that can automate reporting, but still leave some level of flexibility. The process is much the same as the project level automation but comes with an additional tool for selecting the slides to be used for a specific report and to allow for changes in production depending on the need.

Common use cases:

  • Templated deliverables for "off the shelf" Market Research products, e.g. concept test reporting, pricing research reporting etc.
  • Market research reporting teams that have a slide library that they might cherry-pick layouts from.
  • Product sales reports that contain only information that is present.
  • Product/brand comparison reports where the user is selecting the products or brands to be compared.

Our dedicated automation specialists and manual population teams are a scalable extension of your talented research department. Helping you to efficiently produce numerous reports that are engaging and error free, giving your researchers more time to focus on delivering actionable insights and telling a compelling story with the data.

If you are interested in receiving a quote for our report population services, simply complete the form below and our team will contact you with a recommendation and ballpark cost.


3. Report Builder software


Report Builder 2.0 is a report generation tool from Indico Labs, specifically for the Market Research industry. Report Builder allows researchers to generate simple, branded, editable reports directly from their aggregated survey data (sometimes known as banner tables or crosstabs).

Common use cases:

  • Reports with repeatable sections
  • Multi-audience Market Research reports, such as international studies that require the same deck to be repeated for each country.
  • Top-line summary reports.
  • Appendix sections.
  • Simple tracking studies.

4. PowerPoint Generator API


APIs provide a way for developers to connect with different services and access their functionalities programmatically. This makes it possible for users to create custom scripts that interact with these services and generate automated presentations using specific parameters or input data.

Common use cases:

  • Catalogue production.
  • Sales reports.
  • KPI reports.
  • PowerPoint exports from Dashboards.
  • Online data tools that require a PowerPoint export option.
  • Stock inventory summary, etc.

Case studies:


In this video case study, Ryan Baum, the CEO of Wolvereye, shares how they were able to reduce their report production time by 80%, leveraging Market Research Report Automation from Indico Labs.

Ryan discusses how this service not only saved Wolvereye money but also allowed them to focus on tasks that have a more meaningful impact on their business and customers.

“All we have to do is send a simple spreadsheet to you guys, and within 24 hours, we have x number of slides, however many slides it is, it's all automated.”


Tim Hoskin, President of Quester Strategy and Insights, discusses the importance of the Indico Labs Report Population Service to Quester and the impressive ROI the business has seen from partnering with Indico Labs.

Tim's insights are fascinating, and it's worth watching this video case study or reading the transcript below. The Indico Labs Report Population Services has helped Quester to make better use of employee time while also providing accurate reporting quickly.

"When we have multiple different projects running on the exact same timeline it allows us to better optimize the current resources."

How to know which automation solution is right for you

When deciding on which PowerPoint automation solution works best for you there are some key questions you can ask yourself to help you identify which PowerPoint automation solution is right for you.

Do you have anyone in your team or company with the expertise required to be able to automate PowerPoint creation?

Understanding what skills are already available to you in-house will help you to understand whether there is even a possibility of keeping the responsibility of creating a solution entirely in-house, or whether you are going to need to employ a third-party solution or partner to help you.

Do they have the capacity to take on the task of automating reporting?

So, you have found someone internally who is a Python wizard - that's all well and good, but if they're tied up on other projects for the next 6 months and you need a solution pronto, they aren't going to be much help.

Even so, they may come in useful in the future if there is a cheaper solution that can be created by a partner but passed to an internal team for maintenance.

How complex are the reports you would like to automate?

This is where you are attempting to get a feel for the scope of the automation required. Several different factors feed into the complexity of a report for automation, including the number and types of different data sources, additional calculations that are required, custom positioning of shapes and items etc.

The more complex the report, the more difficult it is to automate production. Simple reports might lend themselves well to third-party, self-service tools, whereas complex reporting might require custom code solutions, written by an expert.

How many reports would you like to automate, and how often do you need them to be refreshed?

This is the point at which you will start to understand the overall scale of your automation project. If you only need a handful of reports, a manual process with some custom coding might be acceptable, but if many reports need updating regularly, then it makes sense to look for an automated solution.

Scale and frequency should also feed into your cost considerations. If you have 100 completely different reports to automate, employing a partner to build a custom solution for each could be a fast way to burn through all of your cash. You might want to look for a solution that has a set fee, but can be used across multiple projects.

How flexible does the solution need to be?

How much freedom do you need when creating and formatting your reports? Some solutions offer rigid designs and set formats which can make them difficult to work with if you need something more bespoke.

Other solutions allow you to have more flexibility from one report to another - sounds great in theory, but a flexible solution also requires more skilled resources on hand to ensure it works correctly.

Questions like these can help you determine which type of PowerPoint Automation will be most beneficial for your specific needs.

Take the Quiz!

Still not sure which type of report automation is right for you? Take our free quiz to get tailored advice on which solutions would be best suited to your situation!

How to prepare a report for PowerPoint automation

Let's shift our focus to five essential tips that will help you prepare and organize your reports for efficient PowerPoint automation. These tips are carefully crafted to provide actionable strategies and guidelines that can boost the overall effectiveness and productivity of your automation process.

Tip 1: Understand who is involved, understand their needs and keep them informed

To succeed in automation, first, grasp who else, internally and externally, plays a role in the final report. For instance, if Barry provides crucial data, understand his process. While you might automate various steps, ensure that automation doesn't disrupt vital links in the workflow, and aim to discover efficiencies that benefit everyone.

Tip 2: Compile a list of data sources, and any expected inconsistencies

Create a thorough list of data sources, including databases, spreadsheets, and external APIs. Document each source accurately for easy access. Look for missing or inconsistent data and devise a plan to handle them proactively, whether through data imputation, cleaning, or reaching out to providers for clarification. This upfront effort ensures the reliability of your data-driven insights and paves the way for confident analysis and reporting.

Tip 3: Clean up your report

Before diving into automation, assess your report for any historical quirks or unused slides. Consult with report recipients to ensure the report aligns with their needs and streamline it by including only essential elements. This preparation sets the stage for an accurate, effective, and efficient automated process.

Tip 4: Set global rules

When automating your report, create a detailed set of instructions for easy reference, especially if others may need to review the process later. Avoid repeating specific rules for each slide or object; instead, designate a single section to list rules that apply to the entire report. This practice ensures efficiency and clarity, like comparing the current quarter with the previous one throughout the report.

Tip 5: Write clear automation instructions

Writing clear instructions is essential for successful report automation. This means spelling out every detail, including data sources, calculations needed, fields to be included, and any other elements that are vital for the preparation of a sophisticated report.

These details may seem tedious upfront but can save a lot of time and frustration in the long run.

We like to add annotations directly to the slides that need automation. This way, we don't have to worry about including extra details like slide numbers or shape names. But if you want to keep your report looking neat and clean, you can easily apply the same approach to Excel or Google Sheets.

Download the free resources pack, including examples of automation instructions:

Putting in a little extra effort up-front will go a long way in ensuring your report is accurate and presented in the best possible way. We've prepared a handy downloadable checklist for you to use when preparing your report for PowerPoint automation.

Using this guide will help you stay organized and ensure that all the necessary tasks are completed in order to create a professional, well-crafted report.

Request your checklist here:

now that you have automated your PowerPoint reports

10 things you can do with your free time now that you have automated your PowerPoint reports

Here are 10 satisfying and productive things to do now that you've automated your PowerPoint reports. Let's dive in!

1. Stakeholder support

Automated reporting frees up time to strengthen relationships with stakeholders, ensuring they grasp the data's significance through context and supporting details, leading to better discussions and positive stakeholder relationships.

2. Strategic planning

With automated reporting handling the mundane, you can dedicate more time to strategic planning. This newfound time allows for frequent KPI reports, in-depth analytics, bottleneck identification, and innovative solutions, positioning you as a valuable team member and potentially advancing your career.

3. Tell more compelling stories

With more time on your hands, you can dive into your report's key stats and stories. Thorough data analysis leads to relevant insights and compelling narratives tailored to your audience's preferences, ensuring your reports are engaging and impactful, leaving a lasting impression.

4. Check in with your colleagues

Invest time in nurturing team relationships. Check in with colleagues, lend a hand, or chat over coffee (virtual works too!). These interactions boost morale and promote collaboration, ultimately enhancing productivity. Plus, sharing your automation success might benefit others!

5. Improve other processes

Beyond automating reports, explore other processes in your workflow for potential automation. Your extra time can be an efficiency game-changer. Check out our PowerPoint automation use cases to discover where you can make further improvements.

6. Read up on industry news

Your workday is now free from tedious reporting – it's time to flex your knowledge and catch up on the latest industry news. Whether it's reading recent articles, attending webinars, or following top thought leaders, you're sure to stay ahead of the game and add value to your team.

7. Professional networking

Now that you have some extra time, why not focus on networking? Attend industry webinars, join online forums, or connect with peers on LinkedIn. Building a strong professional network can open doors to exciting opportunities and fast-track your career growth.

8. Learn something new

In our ever-changing professional world, continuous growth is essential. With extra time at your disposal, consider expanding your skill set through online courses. Mastering new software or skills can give you a competitive edge and set you up for success in the digital realm.

9. Relax and rejuvenate

Don't forget to take care of yourself amid all the productivity. Spend some time each day to relax and rejuvenate. Read a book, go for a run, meditate, or anything else that helps you unwind. After all, a healthy mind leads to improved work performance.

10. Clock off

One of the best things about automating your PowerPoint reports? You get to clock off on time! No more late-night report making. You can finally enjoy your evenings, spend time with family, or just catch up on your favourite show.

Automating your PowerPoint reports is your ticket to unlocking more time for what truly matters personally and professionally. It's not just about efficiency; it's about regaining control over your schedule and boosting productivity.

So, why wait? It's time to take the leap and automate your PowerPoint reports today. Experience the benefits first hand as you free up valuable hours for strategic planning, compelling storytelling, and strengthening team bonds.

To supercharge your automation journey, we've put together a comprehensive pack of report automation tools and resources, including templates and checklists. Don't miss out! Enter your details below to get your hands on this valuable free download and embark on a more efficient and rewarding reporting experience. Your future self will thank you!