Stop Abusing Interns For Automation Purposes
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.
I'm a tad bit surprised when I hear about some business practices. Especially when I hear horror stories about daily reporting schedules that are off-loaded on interns who last for 3-6 months.
The best part of it is – the interns feel proud. They are doing something "important". They receive "experience". They might work from 9-22 every day, and work as important parts of a team – for 6 months maximum; when the next intern takes over.
Where does that insanity stop?
First of all. If your company is still Excel based. Stop right here. Something is seriously wrong with your company.
We are in the ages of Google Sheets and tools which are made to understand your data. Did you know that you can connect most services to those sheets directly?
Did you know that you can write so powerful scripts in Google Sheets, that you can have all the reports created 1 minute after midnight every day automatically?
But but, developers…
… cost money. Are hard to find. Pick all the cool jobs. Are expensive.
Make the base calculation here with me for a minute. If you need interns and team members from multiple teams to create reports on a daily and/or weekly basis – how much time and money is your business losing on the manual data retrieval practices?
Shouldn't it rather focus all its time on understanding the data, instead of downloading and retrieving it manually?
As a brief example : It takes an experienced developer possibly a day, to create you that automated Google Analytics report into your Google Spreadsheet. A single day.
But everyone knows how to "Excel" already
Excel is a great tool, for certain types of limited spreadsheets. If your Excel spreadsheets constantly run over 1000 rows, it's time to change the tool. Let's not use a screwdriver to hammer in that nail.
Automation sounds complicated
It really isn't. Solve it step by step.
Integration takes a long time in our company
It shouldn't. Replace your Google Analytics code on your websites with Segment.io ( Not affiliated, but I'm a big fan ), and every new tool becomes a simple [on/off] switch.
It takes sometimes months for integration teams to add a new software, and suddenly it's just a simple switch? How easy is that?
The outcome could be beautiful
Quick wins :
1. Live CSV in Google Sheets
Save a .csv to your Dropbox folder, and link it within your Google Sheet. Whenever you update your .csv file, the online sheet will have the latest updated data available.
Import it with this simple formula ( from http://webapps.stackexchange.com/a/51077 ) :
How easy was that?
2. Know SQL? Get live data from your MySQL Database into Google Sheets
Any developer worth his 5 cent will be able to easily hook up your existing SQL database with your Google Sheet by copying some of the simple code from this page : https://developers.google.com/apps-script/guides/jdbc
Suddenly you don't have to export MySQL data anymore, it's right there – live in your spreadsheet. How awesome is that?
3. Import Google Analytics data into Google Sheets
This one is quite cool, and saves A LOT of time. Automate your Google Analytics reports into a Google Sheet with the free Google Sheets Add-On called 'Supermetrics'. This saves us so much time in creating reports, it's crazy.
Besides that you can even pull data from Google Adwords, Facebook Insights, Twitter, Youtube and some other providers as well.
Suddenly you don't even have to hire a developer. It becomes "Do It Yourself" with just a few clicks.
Happy Data Pulling
From my experience those 3 approaches should help with most cases that interns are abused with. What are some overlooked tools that help you in your data retrieval?