Automation, not automagic

You sit at your desk. No data admin to do, emails sorted, and documents processed. Instead, you’re talking to your customers, conducting research, or furthering the business.

All the repetitive and frustrating little tasks are gone from your to-do list. And, as more pile in, they’re completed in the background, all on their own.

The effects of automation software can often seem magical. But, as Jim Hazen puts it, it’s automation, not automagic. And when you attribute the abilities of automation to magic, the spell can soon break down.

The magic of automation

It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security with automation. To forget that it’s there; to cease thinking about the tasks it handles so quickly and quietly. Automation is the ideal silent partner.

As automation uses conditional processing, it triggers processes round the clock, round the year. It works seemingly with intelligence as it ticks away in the background.

And so, while it unobtrusively gets on with the processes you’ve given it, you enjoy boosts to efficiency and productivity. Without, that is, worrying about those dull, repetitive tasks. This makes you feel good. You get less worry, and a bigger sense of accomplishment when you complete high-value work.

Eventually, this results in people forgetting about the set-up and maintenance of a successful automation implementation. It’s viewed as an easy silver bullet to all your business process problems. It becomes viewed as automagic, instead of automation.

The problem with automagic

So, why is this a problem? When you start viewing automation as automagic, it raises your expectations around what the software can do.

As a result, you might miss errors and issues within the rules you’ve set. Automation can’t fix broken processes or recognise when it’s gone wrong. So, it could fail to work as you expect it to.

Or, it could result in automation over-reliance. That is, because automation has become this magical tool, you give it jobs it’s not suited for. In the worst-case scenario, team members lose their jobs to automation. This feeds into automation anxiety and disrupts your office atmosphere.

And this inevitably culminates into your automation falling short of your magic-fuelled expectations. This leads to disappointment, which can drive you to give up on the tool and miss out on everything it can do for you.

Managing expectations

There are things you can do to remind yourself that it’s automation, not automagic, however.

For a start, remember the set-up process. Automation software is a rule-based system that needs you to create the rules it follows. Remember the trick behind the magic: the ‘IF’ statements you created and fed to the software.

Don’t set and forget. A big part of what makes automation morph into automagic is not peeking behind the curtain now and then. Make sure you’re maintaining your automation software. Check that it’s working as desired, update your processes as needed, and refresh your automated messages.

And finally, don’t try to replace people. From the offset, treat your automation like a tool for your team to use. Because that’s what it is; a tool that needs people to use it effectively. Don’t view it as something akin to a person taking on the tasks you give it.

What automation can, and can’t, do

When your automation starts to look like automagic, it can help to have a cheat sheet handy to get you back on track. So, here’s a basic overview of what automation software can and cannot do.

Automation can
  • Take on high-frequency, simple tasks
  • Handle some complex tasks with conditional processing
  • Assist your teams across your business
Automation can’t
  • Handle irregular or highly complex processes
  • Make decisions
  • Fix broken processes
  • Self-correct
  • Replace your human team

It’s automation, not automagic

Don’t attribute to magic that which can be adequately explained by logic.

Automation, once up and running can appear magical. But, just like the magic shows you might see on stage, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Unlock the logical magic of automation today, with a free trial of ThinkAutomation.

Useful links

Conditional processing for dummies

The top 5 automation pitfalls to avoid

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