Since 2020, the Learning and Development team at Zapier hasn’t manually advertised any internal workshops or calendar events. We delegated our administrative work to automation so that we could focus our time on activities that require human interaction, such as coaching and facilitating.
We created the L&D robot, which we adorably refer to as, using Zaps, our term for our automated workflows, to handle those office duties. We estimate that our robot has saved our team over 1,000 hours of work annually and given everyone at Zapier a higher-quality and more reliable learning experience.
I’ll explain how our robot operates and share a few sophisticated Zap-building techniques with you in order to motivate you to think broadly about automating.
The way Zapiers L&D program is automated
The objective was to improve the efficiency of this repetitive activity while freeing up our time to perform more difficult duties when they determined that repeated tasks could be automated even more effectively than they could manually do.
Zapier solicited input from the entire team for a wish list of L&D robot features. Here is an illustration from the list of what L&D robots do:
- Create, coordinate and follow live in-house workshops
- Drive traffic with intelligent ad logic that targets the right people at the right time
- Reinforce learning by notifying learners of preparatory tasks, summaries, and surveys
Then they created a series of Zaps, one for each item on the wish list. These are the parts that make up the L&D robots.
Over the past two years, upgradation and expansion continued. Workflow, building out its capabilities and functionality. Currently 42 of Zap’s are powering L&D robots.
5 tools that power L&D robots
Simply put, L&D robots are a series of Zaps. These Zaps power the robots and instruct them how to create calendar events, notify team members, add participants to workshops, track attendance, advertise workshops, etc. It works as a manual.
These Zaps connect to many different apps to run different processes behind the robot, but the four most important ones are:
Airtable is the L&D robot’s brain and database, where it stores important information. Tell the robot all the information it needs to track each workshop, the messages to send, how time zones work, and workshop attendance.
By changing the Airtable’s fields, the presenter can easily adjust live program settings without having to fiddle with her advanced Zap system. This means that moderators can own and update the program without touching the critical zap running the L&D robot. This makes the system easier to use and less likely to break.
Google Calendar is the command center that tells L&D robots when and what actions to take.
Zap creates the above calendar events based on Airtable’s workshop-specific settings. Other Zap’s then look for the same calendar event to activate and promote that workshop, send important information to attendees, and notify moderators to add the Zoom links.
The human resources system, BambooHR, provides L&D robots with the critical information needed about each team member.
For example, if you run Zap promoting a workshop, you can search each team member in Zapier, find their profile in Bamboo HR, and use the time zone information to decide if they want to be notified about that particular workshop.
Slack is the new way of communicating with team members. It is the voice that the L&D robot uses to communicate with the workshop moderator and everyone on Zapier.
A series of Slack Zap’s send a fully formatted dynamic message based on the details of that particular workshop.
Best features of L&D Robot
Automatic workshop creation
Creating a workshop is as easy as filling out this form:
Zap triggers an airtable form so facilitators don’t have to manually enter the same information each time to repeat the workshop. As facilitators fill out forms, Zap pulls out following information from the Airtable database to find everything needed to know about the workshop being created.
- How many sessions are present?
- How long does each session last?
- When should the promotion of the workshop be done?
- Which message should be sent and when?
- Do participants need to do any preparatory work?
Google Calendar events for the workshop will also be created by the same Zap which prevents human error at every step like when creating an event, promoting to eligible employees and notifying those who have registered.
To give the moderator time to prepare and review the work of her L&D robot, it also notifies the moderators when it’s done.
Intelligent Workshop Promotion
Intelligent workshop promotion means that event details can be added to the database once and repeated promotions can be done in the future with no additional effort required. Here’s how it works:
L&D Robot uses Airtable database and Looping by Zapier details to scan everyone in Zapier and let them know about the workshop when:
- Someone has not attended a workshop yet.
- The workshop will take place between 8am and 6pm local time.
- Everyone has met all the requirements, including completing an e-learning course in our Learning Management System (LMS). few.
- The lead time for this workshop has not been exceeded. Avoid last-minute registrations for workshops with preparatory work by limiting lead times. In a manager-only workshop, they are the managers.
- They have not opted out of workshop promotional communications.
To answer one of the most difficult problems, teaching the L&D robot to only advertise a workshop if it occurred during a particular team member’s working hours, a table was created that told the L&D robot about the local time for each hour of the day, from 8am to 6pm.
Here’s how it works:
- The L&D robot uses Google Calendar to determine when this particular workshop will start.
- Then look up that time in Airtable’s handy time zone table.
- Then, using Zapier’s looping and filtering steps, each employee’s time zone data is compared to the list of approved time zones for that hour of the day.
The L&D robot will send them a message containing information about that particular workshop, a signup link, and why they received that message, if all the filters are successful.
Feedback from learners
Attending a live workshop isn’t enough to help team members learn new skills and behaviors. Difficult and tedious tasks for humans to do consistently with large groups juggling multiple workshops, but a no-brainer for robots is providing learners with a summary of preparatory work, a summary of what has been learned, and additional material for the next six months.
Our biggest challenge was to provide an easy way for the moderator to tell the L&D robot when to message and what to say without having to change a ton of advanced Zap . Again Airtable helped us out!
The one and only time moderators add details while sending Slack messages and what to say to the broadcast table. When a new workshop calendar event is created, a series of Zaps check the airtable to see who has signed up or joined the workshop, using a loop with Zapier to send a Slack message to send team members.
How L&D Robots Helped Zapier’s Team
Since letting L&D robots do the administrative work, some pretty amazing improvements were seen. As previously reported, the robots saved the team over 1,000 hours of work each year.
Ashley Priebe Brown, Onboarding Program Manager on our team, said: The robot has reduced a ton of manual work for facilitators. All we have to do is prepare the content for the session and show up to moderate it!”
Manual tasks such as creating calendar events, marketing programs, and submitting feedback forms are done automatically. Robots make time for humans to work alongside other humans. “
Robots have also significantly increased participation in workshops. Since building intelligent workshop ads, attendance has skyrocketed by 20x.