Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Most Epic Spreadsheet Ever

My Most Epic Spreadsheet Ever

My Most Epic Spreadsheet Ever

I'm an English major. I think in words. Spreadsheets are NOT my favorite. However, in the past few years I have come to appreciate the power and logic of these sheets of cells. Recently, I realized that a significant portion of my consulting business runs on a single Google sheet, which was both amazing and terrifying! I run events across the country. My goal this year is to schedule 35 of these multi-day events. I don't have an assistant, secretary, or office manager. Efficiency is key, so I set up systems, like this one:

1. It Starts with a Form

Anyone who is interested in hosting one of my events fills out this form. It's very simple; nothing fancy going on.


2. I map the locations


I need to make sure that I don't schedule too many events in one area. I use an add-on called GeoCode to automatically add each event to a custom map. This map is private to me and let's me see the geographic distribution of my events. GeoCode automatically maps my events every time a new form is submitted.


3. Send Event Agreement

Now that I have collected all of the necessary information, I use Autocrat, a free Add-on for Sheets, to generate an event hosting agreement that looks like this. I (manually) verify the information and send it to my contact. The event gets tagged as "pending." Tagging the event puts a hold on the steps below.


4. Send Registration and Event Flyer

Once the host district has reviewed and signed the host agreement, I manually create a registration page using nVite. The registration URL goes into the spreadsheet. I then change the event tag from "pending" to "confirmed." which triggers another AutoCrat sequence (it checks for new jobs hourly) which generates a unique digital event flyer. AutoCrat sends a custom email to the event host with access to the flyer and other important information.


5. Update the Website

I hired one of my former students as my web and graphic designer. He makes all of my websites and print projects look amazing! Once an event has been confirmed, FormMule sends him an automated email (looks like this) with all of the event information so that he can post the event to my website.

6. Manage and Monitor

Each of the add-ons I use inserts new rows and headers into my spreadsheet which makes it very cluttered. I hide columns that I don't need to see and create custom filters to isolate specific types of events or events from a specific state.
That's it! This entire process is transparent to the host school. If I do my job correctly everything goes smoothly and the event is a success! Google Sheets, forms, and add-ons allow me to build powerful, time-saving system.

Develop a System!

I wish more schools took advantage of add-ons, form, and sheets. There are a LOT of school systems that can be improved with these tools: lunch counts, discipline referrals, continuing education credit tracking, event registration, classroom evaluations, room reservations, volunteer registration, permission slip tracking, and more! If you need a hand building a system for your school, let me know. It won't be free, but will pay for itself in the hours you save once the system is in-place.

If you developed your own automated system, I would love to hear about it! Leave a comment and let me know what you built!

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