Best app to automate work

Data Efficiency and Productivity using Zapier

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We all waste time. Sometimes it’s a good thing because it gives our brains time to think while we do something mundane. Sometimes it really is just a pointless waste of time though. Like doing stuff that can be automated.

If you’re already a client of mine, you’ll know I’m a bit fanatical about finding stuff. By that, I mean I despise searching through emails or cloud-based storage to find a document that I know exists. In a previous post, I explained how a filing structure will make a business more efficient, but that’s only the start. We can also add a touch of automation and make filing just that little bit sexier.

Allow me to introduce Zapier.

What is Zapier?

Zapier is the sheepdog of software. It rounds up information and puts it exactly where you need it using the formula If This Then That.

Here are two examples of how Zapier rounds up information:

  1. If Someone registers their interest and completes a form on my website Then add them to my MailChimp list

In conjunction with this, you can also add a Zap that adds them to your CRM…

  1. If Someone registers their interest and completes a form on my website Then add them as a lead in my CRM

So, now you get to send this prospect updates via newsletter and begin to turn that lukewarm lead into a raging volcano of a client while keeping track of them in your CRM. The best part is that you didn’t have to do anything. Zapier added the data to both MailChimp and your CRM while you drank coffee. Sweet!

There are thousands, probably millions of simple Zaps like this and you can use Zapier to carry out simple tasks through to complex automation.

I discovered this when I tried to set up a sequence of Zaps to do the following tasks. Remember, Zapier works on an If This Then That scenario so you can see how this sequence was doomed to fail.

  1. IF a Trello card is moved to a specified List
  2. Then create a new Label in Gmail
  3. Then Find or Create a new GDrive Folder
  4. Then If a New File is added to the GDrive Folder…
  5. Then Add it as an Attachment to the Trello Card

What I wanted to do was IF this Then Then Then Then.

Hundreds of zAPPS supported

Using Zapier

I believe Zapier can do pretty much anything but I’m not a programmer, and I couldn’t find a way to make this sequence work. If I can’t find a way, I’ll make a way, and so I emailed the Zapier geniuses. I was heartened by their response:

“Thanks for the detailed description! I’ve been doing a good bit of thinking here to try to come up with a workflow, and I’ve got something that should work well — the catch is that it’ll be pretty complex to set up. Jacob 

Excellent, I love a technical challenge. The instructions I had were as follows:

Zap One: (creates folders)

  1. Trigger: Trello new Lead card
  2. Action: New Gmail folder
  3. Action: New Gdrive folder
  4. Action: Storage Set Value (key = Gdrive folder ID, value = Trello card ID)
  5. Action: Storage Set Value (key = Trello card ID, value = Gdrive folder ID)

Zap Two: (attaches new uploads)

  1. Trigger: Gdrive New File
  2. Action: Formatter Split Text (see below)
  3. Action: Storage Get Value (output of Formatter action)
  4. Filter: Only continue if storage output exists
  5. Action: Trello Add attachment to card using ID from Storage

Zap Three: (cleans up old keys)

  1. Trigger: Trello (not sure which trigger is best here — Card Archived maybe?)
  2. Action: Storage Get value (card ID)
  3. Action: Storage Remove value (output of the previous action)
  4. Action: Storage Remove value (card ID)

I’m not going to lie, although these instructions seem simple enough, Jacob was right. It was complex and tricky to set up, but with some insider help from the fabulous Zapier engineers, we made it happen.

So what do these Zaps actually do? They save a shed load of time:

Week 1

Client 1: 4 Zaps automated 385 Tasks

Client 2: 3 Zaps automated 93 Tasks

Week 2

Client 1: 4 Zaps automated 422 Tasks

Client 2: 3 Zaps automated 120 Tasks

That’s 1020 things no-one had to do

Specifically, these Zaps do the following:

When a Trello Card is moved to a specified List :

  1. New folders are created in multiple people’s Gmail
  2. A new folder is created in the company’s Gdrive
  3. When any document is added to the Gdrive folder, the document is automatically uploaded to the Trello Project Card

Why is this set of Zaps helpful?

  • They help everyone in a business maintain the same processes. It means everyone is more efficient because everyone knows where everything is
  • There is a naming convention that runs across every project which is used for all documentation. This makes for faster, more accurate, document retrieval within Trello, Gdrive, Xero, and Emails
  • The Zaps save time because when only one thing happens it causes everything else to happen automatically
  • Because Gmail Folders can be created for every email account in the business, people file emails with minimal effort and everyone follows the same file structure
  • The same process is followed by everyone in the business which is a huge bonus when you introduce new people to the business.
  • Because documents are viewed from within the Trello board, one can more easily see at what stage a project is

This is one example of how Zapier will streamline your business processes and stop you wasting time. There are countless other ways Zapier will do this, it’s just a question of plotting  what you’d like to achieve and working backward from there