I'm happy to report this one went off without any major hitches on my end. The client ran into some data-related issues at multiple points in this project, which highlights the importance of having good data and maintaining consistency.
• Training Program Consolidation - Training and certifications are housed in half a dozen different source systems. Export those reports and save them all into a folder. From there we designed a master template and built code to cycle through all of those files, opening each, clean the data, and pull completion dates and statuses into our master - taking what was a multi-day task and automating it down to click a button, get your coffee, and when it'll be done by the time you return.
• Once our master list was built, we designed code to generate separate files by manager. We end up generating about 3,000 Excel files for managers which include their direct + indirect reports; "John Doe - EE ID.xlsx". We then send these managers an email and attach their file. If we need to password protect the files we could have, but not having any PII we opted to skip this step.
• Data Consolidation - Continuing with the above example, if the managers had to make changes or give feedback and then return all of these files to us. We can drag these files into a single folder, and cycle through that folder to copy / paste their data back into an updated master. Part of this process, we read the headers to ensure they align with our master, and we can flag any files where the headers appear wrong and we don't copy that data. Again, automating this consolidation saves hours of copying and pasting.
Lessons Learned: The only part I would have probably changes was the data distribution. Generating thousands of files took a couple of hours (granted you go to lunch and the computer keeps cranking) but then distributing thousands of files took even longer. It was about 5 hours before the emails cleared the outbox. In hindsight, I probably should have used our password-prompted encryption / decryption process. This way we could have only sent the one file out to all of the managers. Though we'd still have to communicate the passwords to the managers, these emails wouldn't have contained attachments and would have cleared the outbox much faster.