Time Saved

My blog is about sharing my experiences with Google Apps Script along with the tools I develop, enabling you to learn and take advantage of the efficiencies.

As part of my role at the University of York in the Digital Inclusion, Skills and Creativity (DISC) team I report on how effective these tools are in saving staff time. I work to compare manual vs automated time-taken to perform tasks so that I can then report on this.

I share below a Looker Studio Dashboard I have developed that presents the positive impact the automated tools are having. This will automatically update every 24 hours.

The Tools

Below is a sample list of the tools that have been developed and are reported on:

  • Bulk create Drive folders.
  • Bulk add files to Drive folders.
  • Bulk convert Drive files.
  • Bulk email saving.
  • Create Calendar events.
  • Archive Sheet data.
  • Bulk rename files.
  • Index Drive files/folders.
  • Send event invites from a Form submission.
  • Probation Tracker.
  • Any many more ...

Metrics Recording

Typically the tools involve sharing a Google Sheet template file that staff can then make a copy of and run themselves via a Menu option. When the tool is run a counter kicks in e.g. counting the number of Drive folders that have been created. At the end of the process this number (and only this number) is sent to a Google Form for that specific tool.

Over time this provides a timestamp and numerical value that can then be plotted in Looker Studio.

As of March 2024 the total time currently saved is over 3 years!

Why Report

Why report on this and collect the metrics?

It was not something I always did, there are about 2 years worth of tools that are not included here because once I decided to capture the metrics I wanted to focus on going forwards and finding a standardised way of doing so, not getting bogged down too much in the past.

Professional development - I have been in a very fortunate position where I have allotted time that allows me to step out of my normal duties and focus on development work. As soon as I was introduced to Google Apps Script I fell in love with it and wanted to dabble as much as possible. Dabbling works best with an aim, so I took on very small university projects with a view to finding more automated solutions that focused on time saving, not fancy bells and whistles. Over time my confidence grew, the projects grew, the positive impact grew and I used this report to help justify a desire to grow into this area and continue with my development time as other workloads and pressures increased. The result was a rocket fueled transformation of my skills and incredible time savings, representing the very best of allowing staff to have professional development time.

Visible savings - the report allows for a direct and clear representation of the positive impact these tools are having on saving staff time. Whereas previous word of mouth or emails when following up after a few months of developing a system were the norm, this report allows an ongoing unintrusive method to ascertain some of that detail 24/7 (noting here that follow-up contact with staff is still critically important for successful implementation). The focus has always been upon saving staff time due to increased workloads and to free them up for their own professional development and training.

Culture of developers - as I see with people that engage with my blog, there are individuals that want to learn and try building their own tools. We have therefore encouraged a culture of developers at the University - starting with people who have never coded before! This expands the skill set, provides a support forum for staff to help each other and share many ideas. Thanks to my report we can justify the time and resources to culture this practice.


  1. Thanks Phil, I've been pestering Google support about bulk adding folders and your script helped me fix it within five minutes.