• PowerPoint presentations automated

  • PowerPoint presentations to the board – a help or hindrance to your productivity?

    How often do you hear fellow sales managers complain that if they could spend less time putting together management information (MI) they would have more time to generate the income everyone really cares about?

    At xlteq, which automates most business processes using Excel-based tools and models, we hear it a lot. But we’re also often surprised by the length of time managers think MI preparation should take.

    We were recently approached by a client whose sales managers were spending an incredible four days a month preparing PowerPoint presentations for the board.

    Those presentations on the company’s activity and performance were extracted from the client relationship management system, an Access-based order database and separate Excel workbooks showing invoicing and payment information extracted from the accounting system.

    This time consuming manual process involved extracting the data from their IT systems, visually checking and if necessary updating and correcting  the data, manually analysing it, re-creating and updating Excel charts to illustrate the data, and putting those charts into a PowerPoint presentation pack.

    The client wanted to know if by automating some or all of the process, their sales managers could reduce the time spent on preparing their PowerPoint presentations for the board, and therefore increase their productivity.

    Unsurprisingly, the answer was yes.

    The Solution

    First of all, xlteq standardised the download process from the three data sources listed above using direct links to the data, and therefore removing the possibility of human errors during the download.

    xlteq then automated the data checking reports.  This involved running a series of data checking analysis and highlighting potential errors such as gaps, spikes, or unusual trends.

    Finally, we rebuilt the Excel analysis models, creating all the necessary outputs in the Excel model before automating the transfer of charts and tables to PowerPoint slides

    The Output

    The production of PowerPoint slides for board presentations has now been reduced to 30 minutes instead of four days.

    PowerPoint packs utilise pictures rather than a link to excel, meaning the files are smaller in size to export or email. Avoiding links also significantly reduces the chances of extensive errors occurring when emailing the link between colleagues who have different folder structures.

    The tools have not only reduced the production time of reports but also eradicated human error and facilitated superior analysis. And all without any form of disruption to the business.

    The moral of the tale? Not all data solutions need to be disruptive or expensive to give you instant results.

    There is definitely a place for hefty enterprise solutions but they come with hefty price tags, months of planning, risky roll outs and extensive training.

    Excel and Access generated solutions fill the gap between these large systems and the simple, time consuming and error prone “home built” spreadsheets still often used to prepare MI.

    They are also easy to update and unlike many enterprise solutions it’s generally no problem if you change the goalposts at any time.

    This applies not only to PowerPoint presentations but many management information systems such as client relationship management, enabling your company to organise and evaluate the business without disruption.

    At xlteq, we build bespoke business analysis tools that help pull together valuable strands of data from potentially disparate, remote sources and transform that data into easy to understand and interpret information. We turn tasks that are laborious and prone to error into a process that is automated and reliable.

    MI, however you prepare or use it, should help you drive the business forward, not stand in your way.

    Paul Dean, Director xlteq