Makefiles are machine-readable documentation that make your workflow reproducible.

The beauty of Make is that it’s simply a rigorous way of recording what you’re already doing. It doesn’t fundamentally change how you do something, but it encourages to you record each step in the process, enabling you (and your coworkers) to reproduce the entire process later.

I've been using Make like this on and off since my PhD. I could generate my whole thesis -- analyses and pictures -- just by typing "make". It would download required files, run analyses, create the pictures (B&W or color, depending on an environment flag), and run LaTeX to create a beautiful PDF.