By: Michael Brown>>
My VP suggested that I automate myself through project automation.
“You want me to do what?” I thought.
She went on to ask me to consider my wealth of experience in this profession and highlighted that I could be better leveraged and could increase my overall productivity, if I would just consider project automation. The vision was about increasing company and personal value by maximizing the greatest skills of an individual.
I thought I knew this business so well and I could already “see the whole field.” I could call an “audible” so quickly and change the direction of a play the moment the defense shows signs of a blitz. I could call “Omaha” like that Superbowl winning quarterback.
What I could not see was how manual my job had become.
I was used to the fact that easily 2-3+ crucial hours of my day were being consumed to repetitively report, pivot, Vlookup, analyze, and resolve issues. My team was so heavily dependent on me to call a new play every day that had boxed myself into a place where I felt I couldn’t take a day off or we would lose our cadence.
I had convinced myself that I was making things easier for others. However, I was actually making it harder on me and my team was being affected. As Victor Lipman points out, “the first step to increase personal efficiency is letting go.” I needed a prescription for daily prioritization and had been given one - if I would just trust it.
“If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got,” said my grandma. I needed to change my game by automating my game.
My VP and I coined it “Project Automation MB.” I started by reading and studying - anything from performance management anecdotes to the latest trends and tools in marketing technology. After sitting with marketing ops to validate the results, the new dashboards were done.
However, the new dashboards alone did not allow me to gain efficiency. After a few “team automate” discussions, we found out a way that helps the team address over 70% of what the business demands of them. The art and science of this was in automating the way - the way I wanted them to approach their job.
“Project Automation is about maximizing the greatest skills of an individual,” said Megan Lueders, VP of marketing at Zenoss.
“Project Automation MB” was not about me but WE. We started to turn data and views into actionable information. We also developed “the board;” a whiteboard filled with our Top 10 List of most common and most successful plays with the CRM views, reports, and dashboards to match. With each week, the team was starting to see the field as I did and become more productive.
As we got better, we (not I) could see a trend, consider its root cause, and put in place a solution within the same time it used to take me to just run the report.
The reports that used to take me 2-3 crucial hours to prepare now only take me 30 minutes; and my team is now performing at a higher level. We are more agile and more productive with the actionable insights automation has given us. Personally, I am more active at a strategic level and able to coach/mentor and help navigate barriers.
Project automation has had a huge influence on our operation. I initially misread its intent; The goal was not to design a way I could be replaced. The goal was to help me get out of my own way and be of better service to my team and others. Project automation was about gaining personal efficiency and achieving better balance as a result.
By better enabling me, I better enabled them.
This was clear to me year ago when I left for cancer surgery, and I mentioned in this article sharing how a single moment supported me during my recovery. Mere moments like project automation can be transformative - if we allow them to be. I am glad I went through the process of being automated.
My team and I are on our way to achieving better balance between work, health, and life. The productivity levels we now see feels a whole lot better than any inconvenience I had initially imagined. We are not done yet. There are always ways to further optimize, and we are getting there from here.