We are living in the automation age. Booking Travel, Locking doors with your phone, and email responses can all be easily automated. By and large, automation has made are lives easier. It has multiplied our efficiency and given us more time to give attention to top priorities and relationships. However, as solutions continue to emerge it is necessary to evaluate the relative merits of automation vs. manual processes.
Here is a quick guide to serve you in this process…
Which tasks should you consider automating?
Small Repetitive Tasks. There some small tasks that count for very little in your business but that can dominate large portions of your day. Tasks like entering the same data into multiple locations. Tasks like sending a reminder for an upcoming meeting. With automation, many of these tasks can easily be handled by a software solution. When you can automate these processes you should look to do it everything. Automate small, repetitive tasks.
Process and procedures that improve accuracy when done through technology. Calculators solve math problems better than humans. They always have and always will. Human’s aren’t so consistent. We get distracted. We day-dream. We forget what 9×8 equals. If you find that errors continue to occur with a given task, you might consider an automated solution for greater accuracy. The increase in quality control will save you time and headaches in the end. Automate for greater accuracy.
Boring tasks. People want to do meaningful work. We all have a desire to play a vital role and to feel like we are make a valuable contribution. But let’s be honest, there are some tasks that are so boring that they are anything but meaningful. When employees are forced to do tasks like these too often it can lead to low morale or even burn-out. If certain necessary tasks are consider mindless or boring to employees, let the computers handle it. Computers never get bored. They never complain or experience mood swings. Automate boring tasks.
What tasks should let the human’s handle?
Tasks you are unfamiliar with. It is generally unwise to attempt to automate a process that you don’t fully understand. If you haven’t done an activity manually many times you may want to avoid automating it. Without understanding a process it is difficult to know if an automated solution is done correctly. How do you know what was gained or lost with automation? How do you know if the solutions represents progress? This is not to say you should never automate an unfamiliar task, but rather that you should learn it well enough to evaluate the effectiveness of an automated solution. Don’t automate that which you don’t understand.
Relationships. Technology will never replace relationships. Never. People still do business with people and people they trust. Trust is built slowly and through time spent together. While automation can help to facilitate certain aspects of a business making life easier on everyone involved. You can’t automate a game of golf with a client. You shouldn’t automate a “Happy Birthday” to a colleague. Automating that which used to be uniquely relational not only fails to deliver the same affect, it can even work you into a deficit. The person on the receiving end can find the automated engagement so off-putting that it would have been better for you to have taken no action at all than to have automated it. Automate tasks that have low relational components so you can spend time on relationships. Don’t automate relationships.
Phone calls. On a similar note, phone calls are rarely candidates for automation. I don’t have any hesitation to hang up on a computer. I feel no obligation to wait around for a series of menu options. This impersonal attempt to make contact is spammy and ineffective. It is always better to pick up the phone and to make the human connection. Don’t automate phone calls.
Automation is a great tool when properly applied. By following the guidelines above you have a much better chance automating all the right things while maintain the human touch. As software solutions continue to surface, your ability to discern when to automate and when not to will put your business in a great position to be both efficient and human with all those you do business with.
Now it’s your turn
- What other tasks do you look to automate?
- What tasks will you definitely not automate?