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The True Cost Of Wasting Time in PowerPoint

When valuable time is overspent on low-value tasks such as slide formatting and manual editing errors, it diverts resources away from more strategic and potentially revenue-generating activities. Misallocating personnel and labor hours towards low-impact activities can carry a huge price tag and impede the competitive edge, particularly when multiplied across teams and projects.  

Grunt Team
September 12, 2023
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Consider the scenario of a consulting firm with a team of ten consultants who spend an average of 20 hours per week on low-value tasks related to PowerPoint. Assuming an average hourly rate of $100 per consultant, this amounts to a total of 200 hours wasted per week across the team. If we calculate the fiscal impact, the loss in revenue due to this inefficient use of time would be $20,000 per week (200 hours * $100/hour). Over the course of a year, this translates to a staggering $1,040,000 in wasted revenue (52 weeks * $20,000/week). These staggering figures highlight the missed opportunity to allocate resources towards more strategic and revenue-generating activities that could have significantly enhanced the firm's competitive edge and overall success.


The problem with PowerPoint is that it can easily lead to passive presentations. Automation can help streamline the process, leaving more room for engaging content. 

Tom Peters, Former Management Consultant at McKinsey & Company


1. Failing to meet deadlines & reputation risk


The inefficient use of time while working with PowerPoint can lead to project delays and hinder progress in achieving project goals. When time is not managed effectively, the likelihood of missing agreed-upon deadlines and delivering suboptimal client outcomes under last-minute pressures increases. Poor-quality deliverables and missed deadlines can significantly impact the client's perception of the consultant and their level of trust and confidence in the working relationship. As a result, the consultant’s reputation may be at risk. 


2. Competitive disadvantage


The departure of top talent from consultancies can significantly impact an organization. Not only does it disrupt project teams, but it also impairs the consultancy's ability to deliver high-quality services to clients. The loss of experienced consultants can lead to a depletion of institutional knowledge, strained client relationships, and diminished overall competitiveness of the consultancy in the market. 


3. Revenue risk


Imagine a high-pressure scenario where a team of consultants has 24 hours to prepare for a crucial client pitch. Fueled by the desire to impress, they dedicate every single one of those hours to meticulously crafting visually stunning slides, ensuring every detail is picture-perfect. However, because of this intense focus on aesthetics, they unknowingly overlook the inclusion of crucial information. For example, they omit critical data points, fail to address key client concerns or objectives, neglect to provide supporting evidence or case studies, or overlook important market trends and competitive analysis. They realize their mistake as the clock ticks down and the big moment. Despite the visually stunning slides, their narrow focus has not only diluted the core message but also sidelined the broader vision, so the presentation's essence was lost. The lack of essential information leaves the audience perplexed and unimpressed, resulting in a failed pitch.  


4. Lower efficiency and productivity


While visual appeal matters, it shouldn't compromise the delivery of impactful details and ideas. Focusing excessively on administrative PowerPoint tasks to achieve aesthetic perfection can lead to low efficiency and limited productivity. It diverts time and resources from generating compelling insights, limiting consultants' ability to fully serve their clients and contribute to their organizations.

In a recent survey, we asked PowerPoint professionals about their reporting challenges. The results revealed that the biggest challenge was wasted time, accounting for 24% of the responses, followed by automation and visualization best practices (both 19% each), then design inspiration (18%), data quality (12%), and other challenges (8%). This data confirms that developing engaging presentations and achieving productivity is indeed a juggling act, and consultants must be aware of tips and hacks to overcome these pitfalls and costs of unproductivity.


5. Inconsistency


Collaboration is common among consultants, particularly when working on projects and presentations. However, the inefficient use of PowerPoint can significantly hinder the effectiveness of collaboration. When multiple team members work on different versions of a presentation simultaneously, valuable time and effort can be wasted on duplicated efforts.

Similarly, when team members work on the same version of a presentation simultaneously without a clear delineation of responsibilities, the lack of clarity can pose challenges to coordination and impede the smooth flow of work. Consequently, the outputs may be disjointed presentations with inconsistent designs (e.g., different color themes, fonts, etc.). Any subsequent efforts to align the distinctive styles and preferences within the content can further waste time, increase frustration, and cause delays in progress. 


6. Human errors followed by financial losses


Time is often spent on things considered wasteful or inefficient. For instance, many users still copy and paste data from Excel to PowerPoint, like data or images. This is such a boring task. It's not scalable, and it's fragile. If you make a mistake of which you are aware, you'll just need to continue to copy and paste all over again. 

But if you don't figure it out, you might end up where one of our clients ended up. They misreported key metrics to the board by more than $100 million error. That was not a pleasant situation for the CFO or the financial department. In the end, everything was traced back to a human copy-and-paste error.

Automation reduces fatigue and allows consultants to focus on more critical tasks. For example, automating reporting tasks between Excel and PowerPoint may help reduce the margin of error.


7. Resigning from jobs


Persistent PowerPoint inefficiencies can have profound psychological implications on a consultant's job satisfaction and sense of fulfillment. The repetitive and time-consuming nature of formatting, editing, and revising PowerPoint presentations can dampen a consultant's enthusiasm for their work. Instead of leveraging their skills and expertise in strategic, high-value, and impactful tasks, consultants may be disproportionately occupied with mundane, low-impact activities that do not directly contribute to their professional growth and advancement. 

This can be particularly disheartening for talented professionals who aspire to excel and have a meaningful impact on their projects. When inefficient processes, motivation, and enthusiasm constrain their capabilities and potential, they can wane, leading them to question the value and purpose of their work. Consequently, they may seek alternative employment opportunities where their talents can be better utilized, resulting in talent attrition and losing valuable resources within the organization. 





Striking the right balance between creating engaging content, implementing sophisticated PowerPoint best practices, and doing so within reasonable time constraints poses a real challenge. The risks associated with failing to achieve this balance can have far-reaching consequences for both consultants and their organizations.  

To mitigate these risks, consultants can proactively adopt strategies to optimize time management to position consultants for sustainable success in today's competitive business environment. This may include embracing automation tools, participating in comprehensive training programs, standardizing processes, streamlining workflows, and prioritizing presentation quality.

If you want to find out how much time and valuable resources your team loses due to manual PowerPoint processes, take our brief survey