Finding the automation sweet spot

As the world grows ever more computerised and data-led, automation software has become a staple business tool. The technology has never been more in demand. As a result, we’re entering a stage of disruption as businesses work out where, when and how automation will best provide value to them.

But too much or too little of a good thing can have mitigating effects, and automation is no different. You need to balance efficiency and productivity gains, without falling foul of over-automating.

And the key is in finding the automation sweet spot. How, then, can you create the optimal mix of robotic efficiency, human flexibility, and ethical automation?

The trap of too much automation

Like dessert or your favourite song, automation is an example showing that you can have too much of a good thing. Automated efficiency is a major draw, saving you money and time. As such, it’s easy to get carried away.

The problem is, too much automation carries some heavy ethical considerations. Overuse can mean mass redundancy — and job loss has a major impact on emotional wellbeing. It causes a sense of lost identity or self-worth, as well as problems supporting families and paying bills.

Back inside your office, straying past the automation sweet spot can damage morale and cause anxiety. Your team may not feel safe in their jobs. This can cause a loss in productivity, or even see your talented team jump ship.

If you go even further down the rabbit hole, you also run the risks of automation over-reliance. This is where you automate things better left to human team members. It never ends well.

The issue with too little automation

By this point, you might be wondering if avoiding automation means you avoid all these problems.  Unfortunately, this is the other side of the automation scale, and it brings its own host of issues.

We’re in an age of increased data collection and use. We have more admin, more emails and more shallow work than ever.

Without automation software to help, you leave your human team open to mental fatigue and death by admin. Instead of getting any valuable work done, they’re chasing their tails trying to keep on top of their smaller tasks. Your systems become more prone to human error, to boot.

Automation is a core tool for modern businesses. Not having it means more than missing out on the benefits it offers. It means you get left behind while other businesses grow. Finding the automation sweet spot means better data management and increased productivity.

The automation sweet spot

The key challenge of automation, then, is finding this automation sweet spot. That is, the level of automation use that unlocks efficiency and productivity gains. But, that does so without raising ethical problems or hurting your office atmosphere. So, what does the automation sweet spot look like?

In the sweet spot, your automation use supports your team, rather than replacing them entirely.

With a balanced approach to automation, your team no longer find themselves buried under admin. They’re not drowning in emails or weighed down by manual data management. Instead, automation handles those repetitive tasks, while they tackle the harder jobs.

So, you not only see a boost in productivity and efficiency. Your team feel a boost in value.

Finding ‘just right’

Finding the automation sweet spot means finding the right automation balance for your business. But to help you get started, here are a few tips.

  • Automate to help teams, not replace them

Automation software is a tool. So, when choosing what to automate, think about how it’s going to help your team.

  • Focus on repetitive and routine tasks

Automation cannot do everything. It’s comfortable doing the repetitive and routine, giving your team the space to focus on their other challenges. Make sure you aren’t trying to automate infrequent or decision-led tasks.

  • Provide training for teams that need to upskill

It would be dishonest to say the automation sweet spot won’t bring some disruption. Some team members will find their jobs changing and evolving as automation settles into the office. If this means they need training to upskill, support them.

Striking the balance

Ultimately, finding the automation sweet spot is about balancing the robotic and the human. You need to remember the impact that automating processes has on your team, and choose the ones that bring the most benefit to you both.  

There will be disruption no matter where on the automation scale you are. Will it be for positive?

Useful links

Deep work and automation

The golden hammer approach to automation

Why we should embrace automation disruption