How to Get Started with No-Code Automation [5-Step Framework]

automation productivity Mar 15, 2024

Read time - 5 mins

If you're tired of repetitive manual tasks eating up your day, keep reading.


I'll be honest - a few years ago, I tried getting into no-code automation.

But I gave up.

You’ve probably had a similar experience.

You sign up to a platform, you find that it doesn’t integrate one of the main apps you use.

Or, if it does, you lose half a day tyring to build a workflow you think will be useful…

And then you find you consumed more time building it that it would save!

I’ve been there, I actually have this experience yesterday (but that’s a story for another day).

For now, let’s just say, I’m a BIG fan of no-code automation. And you NEED to use it in your personal life, professional life, or both…


No-Code Automation

Zapier is probably the closest to a household name when we think about automation, and if you use Microsoft 365, you’ve probably also heard of Power Automate?

But there are others too:

  • (formerly Integromat)

  • IFTTT (if this then that)

  • Pipedream

For an extended list of tools, what they do, and who they’re best for, click here.

And you should use them because:

  • Many of the apps we use don’t talk to each other

  • Moving data manually can produce errors

  • Boring repeat work is a drag

PLUS - You can now use AI to build basic automations using natural language (Zapier and Power Automate offer this), AND you can build AI into your workflow steps.

So, getting started with no-code automation in ‘n’ steps. Let’s dive in 🏊


The Framework

1. Map your apps

Before you can start automating, you need to map out the apps you live in day-to-day.

Whatever your app stack, make a list of the ones you use constantly. These are the low-hanging fruits when it comes to automation. We're looking for repetitive tasks that make you feel like a human robot.

Pro Tip - Use this prompt: "I work in corporate finance and spend most of my day in [apps you use]. What are some common tasks in these apps that could be automated?"

2. Choose a Platform:

With your app stack mapped, it's time to choose your automation platform.

Each has its own strengths, but the main factors are whether your apps exist or not, and how complicated your automation is. Here’s a link to that tool list again.

And here’s some links that’ll take you to the app search pages of the most common platforms:

  • Zapier supported apps here.

  • Power Automate apps here.

  • Make supported apps here.

  • IFTTT supports apps here.

Key Takeaway - Match your automation platform to the apps you identified.

3. Triggers:

Now for the fun part - defining your triggers. A trigger is an event that kicks off your automated workflow.

Common triggers could be:

  • New email in inbox with specific subject line

  • File added to cloud storage folder

  • New row added to spreadsheet

Pro Tip: Note down what you do every time you sit down at your desk, what tasks you do every time you open an application, what tasks you do every time you open file explorer.

4. Input vs Output:

Automation works best when you can get to the desired output in the least amount of steps possible.

Just because you copy and paste a load of documents from one place to another, or create multiple versions of an Excel for different teams and departments, doesn’t mean you need to re-create every step.

Pro tip - Start from zero. Don’t try and emulate your current process. Look for the happy path from input to output.

5. This vs That:

It’s a mindset. Always think in terms of, “If this activity happens, then that needs to happen next.”

  • If this spreadsheet row is updated with a value above £500 in Column C → Then send slack notification

  • If 3 files are added in Folder Z → Then extract data into Google Doc / Sheet

  • If e-mail includes attachment → Then file attachment in Folder X

Bringing things together

Here are a few use cases for you.

1. Management Reports

Apps used: Excel, & Google Workspace

Platform: Zapier

Trigger: When files downloaded to folder

Input vs Output: Input = Excel, Output = E-mail

If this → Then that: If files in the folder are created in the current month → Then e-mail to management circulation list.

2. Supplier Onboarding

Apps used: Typeform, Google Sheets

Platform: Make

Trigger: When a new form response is submitted in Typeform

Input vs Output: Input = Typeform response, Output = Google Sheets row

If this → Then that: If a new response is submitted in Typeform → Then add a new row in Google Sheets with the supplier data.

3. PDF Document Storage

Apps used: Outlook, OneDrive

Platform: Power Automate

Trigger: When e-mail is received with an attachment

Input vs Output: Input = PDF attachment, Output = Uploaded to OneDrive Folder

If this → Then that: If an e-mail is received with a PDF attachment from [customer/supplier] → Then store in [customer/supplier] OneDrive folder.

These are all single step, but you can start to chain multiple steps together for more powerful automations.

Putting it into practice

Now it's your turn to experiment.

  1. Sign up for a Zapier account

  2. Connect your corporate apps (e.g., Gmail, Google Sheets, Slack)

  3. Create a simple Zap. You can get inspiration here.

  4. Test and deploy your Zap

You'll be automating repetitive tasks in no time!

Hit reply. I’d love to know what you’re automating.

That’s it for this week.

See you next time!


P.S - The best way you can help me is by sharing this with your network. Who’s 1 person you know who’ll also get value from this? Sharing would mean the world to me 🌎♻️

2 Ways I can help

When you’re ready here’s how I can help you:

  1. Book a 1:1 coaching session - We’ll turn your tech confusion into tech confidence. Start crushing it here 

  2. Join the AI & Automation Academy Waitlist - Get early bird access to my up and coming course here.



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