In this blog post, we'll take you through our step-by-step process to identify which of your PowerPoint reports are suitable for automation.
Whether you are delivering reports as part of the service you offer, or you are producing KPI reports for internal use and monitoring, creating reports is a fundamental aspect of any business.
The problem, however, is that PowerPoint reports can be time-consuming and prone to errors, mainly when data needs regular updates. This is where automation comes in handy: it saves time, reduces the likelihood of errors, minimizes human intervention, and enhances the quality and consistency of reports. But how do you begin to identify PowerPoint reports that are ripe for automation?
In this blog post, we'll take you through our step-by-step process to identify which of your PowerPoint reports are suitable for automation. We have even put together a useful report audit template that you can use in conjunction with this post. So let's get started!
5 simple questions to answer that will determine whether a PowerPoint report can be automated:
First, you need to understand who is responsible for creating the report. It's important to understand exactly how the report is currently being produced. You might find that certain aspects of the report are being generated by external sources, or that there are some processes already in place to ensure some level of efficiency gain.
When we are reviewing reports for automation, we always want to uncover whether any parts of the process need to remain exactly as they are, or whether a complete overhaul is possible (if required).
This will help you determine the scope of the automation project and how feasible it is.
The frequency with which a report needs to be produced can be an indicator of whether automation would be beneficial. If it's an ongoing job that has to be done periodically, then automating it makes sense – if not every week or month, at least once a quarter or year. It's also important to consider how many reports need to be created each time.
For example, in the world of Market Research, it isn't uncommon to run an international study that requires the same report to be produced for each and every market. In the past, we have automated a 5-slide country scorecard that needed to be populated for more than 70 countries! Imagine doing that manually.
The content of reports can be static or dynamic. Static reports are those that remain relatively unchanged, often tracking data over time to help measure performance or present trends - for example, Marketing KPI reports. On the other hand, dynamic reports might change drastically depending on the output required. Ad hoc Market Research projects spring to mind.
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.
If you have the right expertise, creating automation solutions that allow some level of flexibility is certainly possible. If this sounds like something you need, you are welcome to book a free consultation with one of our automation experts.
In order for a PowerPoint automation project to be successful, it does help if the data being used to populate the deck is consistent and reliable over time. Or at least the changes in the data are predictable.
We have seen cases where the data changes drastically and randomly and there is no way to predict what it might look like in the future. In this case, automation would be difficult, as you wouldn't know how to prepare for the range of potential outcomes.
Finally, you will need to think about where the data used in your reports comes from, whether that's an internal database, an external source such as a CRM system or even a manual process involving a data processing team that is producing crosstab reports for Market Research data.
Automation solutions can pull in data from any of these sources, but understanding where the data is coming from helps determine which tool(s) are best suited for automation and the best way of accessing the data.
Depending on the expertise available to you, it is likely that some efficiencies can be achieved at the data collection and manipulation stages of your report production.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the potential solutions available to you, check out our post on PowerPoint automation tools and alternative solutions.
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. There is also a full brief template available to download as part of our automated PowerPoint generation for beginners post.
Automating PowerPoint reports can be a great way to save time, money and energy. It's important to consider the complexity of the job at hand before deciding whether it is worth automating or not. By following our guidance on how to identify which PowerPoint reports are suitable for automation, you will be able to determine if your project could benefit from this approach.
Ultimately, leveraging technology in order to improve productivity should always be considered as an option when dealing with repetitive tasks such as report production - so why not give it a try? We wish you all the best with your automated reporting journey!
If you are unsure whether any of your reports are suitable for automation, why not book a free consultation with one of our automation experts today? They will run through some questions with you and make recommendations based on your needs. They will also help you to understand which PowerPoint automation solution is right for you.