My working background is that I spent 18 years at a large Australian company. I was there at the start and helped it grow to the behemoth it is today. My friends who were colleagues from that era still laugh at the archaic processes we used, to get things done. This was in the days before email (yes youngsters there was a time before that) where you held up a hand-written note for a team leader to take from you and deliver it to the appropriate department – by hand.
We were never at the cutting edge of automation because we had to pay off shareholders with any spare funds. So we had to improvise, and improvise we did, because we realised you don’t have to have the latest software to make a process simpler and more efficient for all.
I ran many labour-intensive, manual excel reports that were business critical. I would start running them Monday morning and they would be completed several hours later (if things went to plan). A new manager joined my team and asked me why I hadn’t automated the reports. My simple response was that I didn’t know how. So I was then introduced to the world of ‘macros’ within excel.
What these macros did was record my every key stroke on my computer…deleting columns, adding headings, copying data from one sheet to another, whatever I did manually to get my reports complete. One task that would take me several minutes to do was reduced to mere seconds, when done by the macro. My working life had changed FOREVER. Mondays reports were now being completed within minutes instead of hours.
I soon became the automation ‘king’, to the stage where I may have become a little obsessed with excel macros, but that is another story. Using the macro ability of excel made the reports faster to run, error free and thus the process was efficient beyond compare. And let’s face I, simplifying an otherwise complex manual task is what automation is all about…right?
Anthony Capes is a business coach and manager for Maureen Pound Coaching. You can email him here: firstname.lastname@example.org