On Automating Too Much Too Soon

This is a hard one for me. I love automating processes and figuring out sophisticated systems to handle them. While automation is usually a good thing, it should be done at the right time in order to actually be more efficient. There are a couple of snags that you run into when trying to do this too quickly.

First of all you might not know your process fully. You need to give the process time to develop naturally and make changes and be flexible to allow yourself to find the ideal (or at least good enough one) process. It is a fatal mistake to not design processes that allow for flexibility. A good process should take care of the majority of cases, but you should be able to deviate from it if necessary.

Secondly there are major costs to automation up front. Developing systems and setting up the automation usually requires a considerable investment of both time and money. While having those orders be automatically done correctly in your book keeping automatically, or having your time management system, CRM and payroll be automatically in sync sure is nice, it takes some setting up. You need to stay realistic and ask yourself at one point in time you actually save resources by doing this, instead of doing a less sophisticated automated system.

While I’m the first to appreciate a smooth process and a cool automated system it is important to actually take a moment and think things through before adding one. Often the costs of doing so far exceeds the benefits, at least in the beginning. Everything just doesn’t have to be scalable in extreme from the start.