Automation mistakes: the tactical fix, rather than the transformation

How would you automate your processes? It makes sense to look for the part(s) of a process that are slow and repetitive, and automate those bottlenecks first – right?

That’s not necessarily a bad approach in the short-term. Looking at the bigger picture, however, these quick tactical fixes are one of the automation mistakes that can reduce a project’s long-term ROI.

You shouldn’t just look at making a series of small tactical fixes. When implementing a far-reaching technology like automation software, you should also be looking at transforming.

The tactical fix automation approach

The tactical fix approach is a common automation deployment method. It’s where automation becomes a quick and convenient way to solve an immediate problem and get processes completed.

So, here, you use automation to remove/patch up bits and pieces of inefficiency in your workflows. You set automation software to complete random tasks here and there.

Tactical fixes, then, offer some great short-term benefits. They take clunky tasks off your hands while you look for a better way to get things running efficiently and smoothly.

In other words, using automation for a tactical fix is a piecemeal approach to automation deployment. It’s patching a hole. But what it’s not is transforming your processes and workflows into something stronger and better.

And this is where tactical fixes can become automation mistakes.

When tactical fixes become automation mistakes

The tactical fix isn’t necessarily always on the list of automation mistakes. They can prove an effective use of automation. In the short-term.

The problem is, tactical fixes often act as a Band-Aid in a larger, complex workflow. These patches of automation don’t fundamentally change the nature of the workflow. And, over time, they can create unnecessary complexity. Strategies are disconnected, data gets siloed.

Using automation as a treatment rather than a cure makes it harder for businesses and teams to adapt as an organisation grows. And, once you’ve seemingly ‘fixed’ a pain point with an automation patch-job, there’s a lower incentive to fix the problem at its root.

In short, you can use automation for tactical fixes. But it’s inefficient to do so.

The alternative

If a tactical approach is one of the key (albeit subtler) automation mistakes, then what’s the alternative? The answer lies in looking at broader transformation strategies.

A strategic approach to automation is one that involves transforming the entire business/operations. It involves deploying automation software with a focus on the long-term benefits of the processes you’re automating.

This means not only patching up pain points, but re-engineering processes to run better, as well as automating them. It means keeping the intended future of the business in mind. For instance, planning for scalability.

And it also means making sure every team member is on board and understands what is automated, what can be, and how to leverage the automation in their respective roles.

How to transform with automation

The strategic approach to automation deployment can be a tall order. After all, you’re going back to the drawing board and implementing new and more effective ways of handling processes across the enterprise.

So, how exactly can you promote transformation, instead of just smaller tactical fixes?

  • Processes

A chief focus will need to go to process re-engineering. That is, strategically recreating processes to improve flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness. By doing this, businesses avoid automating inefficiencies. They tackle problems at the root, rather than applying a stopgap mend.

  • People

Another core element for transformation is making sure that human team members are on board and able to comfortably work with and alongside automation. This means employing change management strategies. For example, a change agent to ease the transition. It means team training to use the software, plus putting procedure in place to know when to use it. In short, take a people-first approach to integrating automation within the business.

The trap of stopgap automation mistakes

There’s nothing inherently wrong with tactical fixes when it comes to automation use. They become automation mistakes, however, when they don’t get treated as short-term stopgaps.

Instead of changing automation to suit the process, change the process to enable efficient automation. Short-term, this seems like a bigger investment. Long-term, however, it saves costs and resources – as well as reducing the impact on team energy and mental effort.

The goal for any organisation leveraging automation should be transformation. And a strategic and holistic approach to automation generates more potential and fewer costs.  

Useful links

Rethinking your automation approach

To curate or to fully automate?

What is a fully automated enterprise?