How to prepare a report for PowerPoint automation [Downloadable checklist and examples]

Five essential tips that will help you prepare and organize your reports for efficient PowerPoint automation.

October 6, 2023
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Automating your repeatable PowerPoint reports can bring significant benefits for you and your team. It not only saves you valuable time but also lets you deliver or review your KPIs and other important data more often, empowering you and your stakeholders to make more informed business decisions.

In our earlier posts, we discussed the step-by-step process of identifying PowerPoint reports that have the potential to be automated. We also explored various popular tools and solutions available in the market, giving you comprehensive guidance on selecting the right one that fits your specific needs.

Now, in this blog post, 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.

So, let's dive in and discover how to leverage the power of automation to streamline your PowerPoint reports, unlock new levels of efficiency, and ultimately drive better business outcomes.

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

Successful automation starts with understanding who else, both internally and externally, contributes to the final report. It's important to consider the multiple layers involved.

For instance, let's say your colleague Barry is responsible for providing data that fuels your forecast for the next quarter. Barry receives the raw data in a specific format from Sharron, processes it in his forecasting workbook, and delivers the key numbers to you for inclusion in the final report.

In an ideal scenario, every step mentioned above could be automated: accessing the raw data, performing statistical modelling, and inputting the results. However, it's possible that the process Barry follows monthly is essential to another part of the business, and disrupting this link could have negative consequences elsewhere.

By taking the time to ensure a clear understanding of everyone's needs and requirements, it's possible to identify automation opportunities without disrupting existing processes. In fact, you may even discover additional efficiencies and become Barry's hero.

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

Next, we recommend putting together a comprehensive list of data sources. This means gathering all the databases, dashboards, spreadsheets, and even external APIs that provide valuable data for your report. Make sure to clearly and accurately document each source so you can easily access the data whenever you need it.

Also, keep an eye out for any potential issues in the data sets. Are there any missing or inconsistent data points? If there are, it's important to come up with and document a solid plan to handle these situations effectively. Whether it's using data imputation techniques, cleaning up the data, or reaching out to the data providers for clarification, addressing these issues proactively will save you time and effort in the long run.

Taking the time to carefully list out these important details upfront not only helps you avoid problems but also ensures the reliability and credibility of your data-driven insights. By establishing a strong foundation from the start, you can confidently move forward with your analysis and reporting, knowing that you've considered everything you need to.

Tip 3: Clean up your report

If your report has been running for a while, chances are it has evolved over time. You may have created different versions of slides, some slides that aren't always included, and other quirks that need to be resolved before you start automating.

It's important to talk to the report recipients at this stage to make sure you meet their specific needs. This is a chance to streamline the report and include only what's necessary.

Once you're happy with the report's structure and it's been agreed upon by everyone involved, you'll be all set to start the automation process. Following these steps will not only ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of your report, but also improve your workflow efficiency.

Tip 4: Set global rules

Even if you're the one in charge of automating the report, it's highly recommended to write a clear and comprehensive reporting specification or set of instructions that can be easily followed. This will be super helpful if you or your colleagues need to review the process later on. Clear documentation will serve as a reminder of your thought process.

Also, when it comes to writing clear instructions, remember that if a specific rule or instruction applies to the entire report, you don't have to repeat it for every slide, chart, or object. Instead, create a dedicated space where you list all the rules that apply to the whole deck. It'll make things more efficient and concise.

For example, a global rule that can be used throughout the report is to compare the current quarter with the previous one.

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.

For example, if you need to include an average amount from different departments in your report, make sure to provide explicit directions on how this should be calculated. Additionally, include clear instructions on how to source the data for each department from the respective databases.

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.

Examples of automation instructions: 

Add your name and email below and we'll email over an example of each method.

Automating tasks is a great way to increase efficiency, but it's important to make sure the data used is accurate and consistent. By following these five tips, you will be well on your way to creating an efficient and organised report for PowerPoint automation.

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.

Downloadable PowerPoint report automation checklist
Enter your details to the form below to download the free Report Automation Checklist today.

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. So don't wait - download the checklist now and get the most out of your PowerPoint automation!

Good luck!

Download the checklist:

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

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

Whoever coined the phrase "Time is money" probably didn't spend their days making PowerPoint reports manually. We've all been there, painstakingly crafting slide after slide, wondering if there's a better use for our time. Well, there is! Thanks to PowerPoint automation, you can now say goodbye to the grind of manual report generation. But, what to do with all this newfound free time? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Here are 10 satisfying and productive things to do now that you've automated your PowerPoint reports. Let's dive in!

Read more.