It Isn't Worth Automating

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item It Isn't Worth Automating

  • Even a complicated manual task performed rarely can be helped by automation as this has the effect of "forcing" the author to properly document the process (well it should do!).

  • I think Randall said it best: https://xkcd.com/1319/

  • Asking around how colleagues handle it or web search for a minute, especially nowadays, chances are someone already 90% published of what you need.

    Although I must admit: "what you automate, you forget" You lose the feeling of it all.

    Johan

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  • Thank you, Steve, for this thoughtful reminder that everything does not need to be automated

    Rod

  • The analysis of how much time does an automation save vs how much time to build is important. I'd like to see more instances of that being used and it would be really nice if we would add 3 factors to it.

    What is the error tolerance for the manual activity? If a process only takes 4 seconds to complete and is done once a week and an automation will take 1 week+ to build it hardly seems worth automating; that is of course unless the data produced in that 4 seconds is so critical that an error in it comes with disastrous consequences. At that point automation goes from "meh", to mandatory. Even if the consequences aren't quite disastrous and are simply impactful or even just annoying it can be worth it and warrants evaluation.

    What happens if it isn't done? A quick manual process is easy to forget doing especially by a human so the impact of the task not getting done may be enough to make automation worth it.

    Optics (aka perception, marketability). Sure a process is simple and it takes only a few seconds but if making a user do it leaves them with the feeling, "It's 2022, I can't believe I still have to click that stupid button." then automation will have more value than just time saved.

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  • You also have to take into consideration the amount of wasted time that would result if the automated schedule was calculated incorrectly resulting in duplicated effort - or even worse, if it failed to notify you of the upcoming deadline. But I think that scheduling is a special case.

    When it comes to procedural tasks with multiple steps that occur at periodic or irregular intervals, something like a disaster recovery, another advantage of an automated script is consistency, so you don't forget a step since it was more than a year ago that a server crashed, and the script will function identically regardless of which team member runs it. Also, the programming creates a sort of documentation - especially if you comment the code.

     

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • john.perry 65725 wrote:

    Even a complicated manual task performed rarely can be helped by automation as this has the effect of "forcing" the author to properly document the process (well it should do!).

    In many cases, I'd agree with this

  • Johan Bijnens wrote:

    Asking around how colleagues handle it or web search for a minute, especially nowadays, chances are someone already 90% published of what you need. Although I must admit: "what you automate, you forget" You lose the feeling of it all.

    Some truth here, though good clean code and some docs/comments help with this. Let's you get back into the mindset if you look at it again.

    Not sure that would help with this task. The Exchange API is a mess.

  • Jason- wrote:

    Optics (aka perception, marketability). Sure a process is simple and it takes only a few seconds but if making a user do it leaves them with the feeling, "It's 2022, I can't believe I still have to click that stupid button." then automation will have more value than just time saved.

    I think about this last part quite a bit. I look for ways that I might automate part of it, or start a solution, usually when it's for someone else. If I can build something over time that creates joy for others, it's often work the hours it might have taken across a long period.

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